Friday, 3 October 2014

Village of the Batak King

In Simananindo we visited a traditional Batak village containing the former home of the Batak King. The houses follow the same design as the typical Batak house but on a much grander scale, with ornate carvings and painting under the peaked roof. 

The village also included the old grain store, a building for milling rice into flour, which would have been by hand in wells carved into a huge log. There were various other stores and houses, all with the same shaped roofs and ornate carvings. Next to the museum was the store for the King’s Boat, which was carved out of a 30m long tree and ornately decorated and painted. Though with many holes I expect it hasn’t been used for a long time.

The very dusty museum held dozens of carvings, weapons, cooking objects, cloths and drinking vessels. Whilst the collection was interesting it was hard to appreciate through the dirty glass and with unhelpfully faded labels we were not always sure what use an object had. Photos showed previous state visits by the Dutch Royal Family.

The King's house in the centre, the others housed the rest of the Batak Royal Family

The milling house, with grain store next door

A totem pole style post at the centre of the village contains carvings of grotesque figures, spirits and acts of copulation - these aim to ward off evil spirits and promote fertility for the crops, their livestock and the villagers

Many of the buildings contain shapes within their design representing boats and the lake itself - the main source for the village's water and food. The design of the construction requires no metal, just slots, grooves and wooden pegs hold the beams and posts together stood on large flat stone foundations

Beautiful paintwork adorned every building

The King's house includes an upper gallery with drums and gongs where the Gamelang musicians play and the villagers dance in the village square

The King's boat, in it's very own boat house, is just as ornate as his houses

The main hull is carved out from a single giant tree

The Royal Family tombs lie just outside the village, each one mimicking the house design

A photograph from the 1950s showing the Batak King and his family

The museum contains many beautiful relics hidden behind dusty glass in cabinets overflowing with historical Batak items

Traditional face masks used for festivals and major ceremonies such as weddings and funerals

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