Another Batak history from an english writer part 1

The Trans-Sumatra Trade and theEthnicization of the ‘Batak’Considerations of historiography and ethnicity1Early visitors toSoutheast Asia were fascinated by rumours of a cannibal tribecalled the Batak in the interior of Sumatra. When John Anderson travelledalong the east coast and its interior areas in the early part of the nineteenthcentury, he met a Batak who told him of having eaten human flesh seventimes, even mentioning his preference for particular parts of the body. Twoother Batak confirmed having also participated in this practice and ‘expressedtheir anxiety to enjoy a similar feast upon some of the enemy, pointing tothe other side of the river. This they said was their principal inducementfor engaging in the service of the sultan.’2Such reports simply reinforcedmyths and partial truths which had circulated about these people sinceMarco Polo’s oft-quoted story of a Sumatran people (presumably the Batak)who consumed their ill (Latham 1978:255). European perceptions were alsoinfluenced by stories commonly told in east coast Sumatra by ‘downstream'(hilir) people that those ‘upstream’ {hulu), that is, in the interior, were hostileand grotesque. A Portuguese chronicler even repeated downriver stories ofan inland group possessing tails ‘like unto sheep’ (B. Andaya 1995:542).It has been suggested that lurid details of cannibalistic practices mayhave been provided by the Batak themselves in an effort to prevent outsidersfrom penetrating into their lands. From early times, therefore, cannibalismbecame associated with Batak identity and had the desired effect of limitingthe intrusion of Europeans until the nineteenth century. But perhaps a more1My thanks to Barbara Watson Andaya, John Miksic, and Uli Kozok for reading earlier draftsof this essay and for their most useful comments. I would also like to express my gratitude to BobBlust and Sander Adelaar for their helpful advice regarding linguistic evidence.2J. Anderson 1971:34. The ‘sultan’ was the Malayu ruler of Deli, who claimed many of Deli’shinterland Batak as his subjects.LEONARD Y. ANDAYA obtained his PhD at Cornell University and is Professor of History atthe University of Hawaii at Manoa. A specialist in the history of Southeast Asia, in particularMalaysia and Indonesia, he has published, among other titles, The heritage of Arung Palakka; Ahistory of South Sulawesi (Celebes) in the seventeenth century, The Hague: Nijhoff, 1982, and Theworld ofMaluku; Eastern Indonesia in the early modern period, Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press,1993. Professor Andaya may be contacted at the Department of History, University of Hawaii atManoa, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA 96822. E-mail address:
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368Leonard Y. Andayaimportant reason for the late entry of Europeans in Batak lands was the factthat, from the beginning of sustained European involvement in the area inthe sixteenth century until the establishment of plantation and other exportindustries in the nineteenth century, European orientation was toward thesea and the coastal polities. With hindsight it is easy for historians to see thatthe Batak were fortunate in avoiding the Europeans in these early centuries.Yet European involvement often resulted in the keeping of records and theaccumulation of written materials which have been crucial in the reconstruc-tion of the history of many Southeast Asian societies.3The lack of a Europeanpresence in the Batak lands until the nineteenth century has meant that his-torians have had very limited or no access to any contemporary Europeanaccounts of the Batak in the pre-modern period.The ethnonym ‘Batak’ is very likely an ancient name, but no one has beenable to give a satisfactory meaning of the term.4Perhaps the very first timethat the name appears in written sources is in the Zhufan zhi, written by ZhaoRugua, Inspector of Foreign Trade in Fujian, sometime in the mid-thirteenthcentury. It mentions a dependency of San-fo-tsi (Srivijaya) called Ba-ta, whichmay be a reference to ‘Batak’ (Hirth and Rockhill 1966:35,62,66).5The next def-inite identification of Batak comes from Tome Pires’ Suma Oriental, which waswritten in Melaka sometime between 1512 and 1515. It mentions the kingdomof Bata, bordered on one side by the kingdom of Pasai and the other by thekingdom of Aru (Cortesao 1990, 1:145). From the sixteenth century onward,references to the Batak as inhabitants of the interior of north Sumatra, and also3For the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the official records of the Portuguese andSpanish overseas enterprise, plus the many accounts found in the collections of the CatholicOrders in Portugal, Spain, France, and the Vatican, have been valuable for historians. For the sev-enteenth and eighteenth centuries, the archives of the European trading companies have proveduseful. The most valuable are the voluminous records of the Dutch East India Company (VOC)housed in the National Archives in The Hague. They date from the seventeenth and eighteenthcenturies and have been used by historians to reconstruct the early modern history of many partsof Southeast Asia.4In the literature on the Batak, one of the most common explanations for this ethnonym isthat Muslims used it to refer to ‘pig-eaters’. Rita Kipp cites other possible derivations providedby her informants: from the Sanskrit bhata or bhrta, meaning ‘mercenary, soldier, warrior, hire-ling, servant’, because of their functions in the past; and ‘savage’ or ‘bumpkin’ (Kipp 1996:27).It is tempting to define ‘Batak’ as ‘human beings’, which is a common definition of ethnonymsof many indigenous groups around the world. The Batek on the Malay Peninsula, for example,gloss their name as ‘human beings’. Despite the lexical similarity, unfortunately there is nolink between the two terms, because ‘Batek’ is from an Austro-Asiatic language, while ‘Batak’is Austronesian. There is an Austronesian-speaking group called ‘Batak’ in Palawan in thePhilippines, but no meaning is known for the term.5Travellers, including Marco Polo at the end of the thirteenth century, refer to certain groupswho are cannibals in Sumatra without providing the names of such people. One should never-theless exercise caution in believing stories of ‘cannibalism’ because of the practice in medievalEurope for travellers’ tales to depict ‘monstrous races’ in lands beyond their known world.
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The Trans-Sumatra Trade and the Ethnicization ofthe ‘Batak’369of certain kingdoms along the northeast coast, become more frequent.Today, the Batak groups are listed as the Karo, the Simalungun, the Pakpak-Dairi, the Toba, and the Angkola-Mandailing. It was the Europeans who firstplaced these clusters of communities in and around Lake Toba who spoke asimilar dialect and shared customs under one rubric, the Toba. Following thisusage, I will apply the term ‘Toba’ in this essay to the communities living onSamosir and the lands surrounding Lake Toba, including those of Silindung.There is a growing tendency to use the word ‘Batak’ to refer solely to theToba, since many of the other groups prefer to be regarded as non-Batakand as Mandailing, Karo, Simalungun, and so on, in the ongoing process ofredefinition of ethnic groups. In the nineteenth century, however, the term’Batak’ appears to have been applied to all these different groups.In writing this essay, I have been very much aware of the uneven distribu-tion of source materials. Any systematic study of the Batak began with thearrival of European missionaries in the nineteenth century. With the penetra-tion of the area by the Dutch colonial administration later in the century, morestudies were commissioned and travel reports published in governmentaland scholarly journals. The continuing presence of German and Dutch mis-sionaries and teachers in north Sumatra has assured an ongoing literature onvarious aspects of Batak society, particularly its religious beliefs. In addition,Indonesian government encouragement of local culture in the 1970s and eth-nic chauvinism and pride since the 1990s have fostered Indonesian and localscholarship on Batak society. For the period before the nineteenth century,there have been a few archaeological studies, particularly by E. EdwardsMcKinnon and John Miksic, which have considerably advanced our under-standing of early settlements in the Batak areas. Nevertheless, much stillneeds to be done to gain a more comprehensive understanding of northernSumatran communities for the first 1800 years AD.With the unevenness of the sources in terms of both period and content,I was confronted with a historiographical problem. Would it be possible toreconstruct the history of an area on the basis of sources which pre- andpost-date the events themselves? Should a historian undertake such a taskas a legitimate historical enterprise? Both questions I have answered in theaffirmative, but with certain reservations. In the following pages I attempt toprovide a historical overview of economic and political events in the regionof the Straits of Melaka as a basis for suggesting a Batak response to suchevents. This reconstruction is based on archaeological findings, as well asnineteenth- and twentieth-century compilations of origin tales of the variousBatak marga.6I have also drawn on a knowledge of the better-documented6In Batak social organization the marga is one of the basic kinship units and traces descentto a single male ancestor. Membership of a marga is determined patrilineally, with children of
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370Leonard Y. Andayaneighbouring communities of the Malayu7(Malay), Minangkabau, andAcehnese, as well as groups in the region confronted with similar conditionsas the Batak, in order to discuss the Batak situation. The result is a histori-cal reconstruction that combines available documentary evidence, historicalimagination, and thirty years’ experience in researching and writing aboutsocieties in the region. I have tried to proceed with caution, and some ofthe reconstructed scenarios may eventually prove wrong. Nevertheless, Ibelieve that this essay has advanced certain ideas that may be worth investi-gating further, if new materials come to light, or if historiographical methodsbecome further refined in the future. In short, I hope that scholars will viewthis venture as a genuine attempt to advance the study of a society whosepre-modern history has been shrouded in mystery for far too long.One of the analytical tools that I use is ethnicity. There has been a consid-erable amount of literature written on ethnicity, principally by sociologistsand anthropologists. The aim of most of these studies has been to determinethe factors which contribute to the formation of ethnic identity. In the pastthere were those who argued that each group recognized certain ‘primordial’elements as the core of their identity, while others claimed that each ethniccommunity is the outcome of specific historical circumstances and situa-tions. More and more, however, studies have taken the middle ground andacknowledged the importance of ‘primordial’ sentiments, but argue that suchsentiments are in fact constantly undergoing change in response to specificcircumstances.8A factor noted in the formation of ethnic identity is the desire to maximizethe advantages of the group. Many have focused on the economic benefits toboth sexes belonging to the marga of their father. The marga can represent an ancient grouping,as well as groups that have developed from the original unit. There is evidence that some of themarga are of mixed origin and have been formed by in-migrants joining with the local popula-tion. Gonda is not totally convinced of Van der Tuuk’s derivation of the term marga from theSanskrit varga, meaning ‘company, party, group1. In the Old Malayu inscription at Talang Tuwo inPalembang from the seventh century, the Sanskrit term marga is used to mean ‘way’ (Gonda 1973:129-30, 205). This derivation appears to have been retained in later centuries. In the Palembang-Jambi area the term marga was used for a lineage group. When the Dutch in the early nineteenthcentury asked a Palembang man what ‘marga’ meant, he replied: ‘One road, people of one incli-nation, one relationship and the same origin1(B. Andaya 1993:17). It is likely, therefore, that theBatak marga stems from the Sanskrit term marga, meaning ‘way, road, path’.7Throughout this essay I have decided to use the alternative spelling ‘Malayu’, rather thanthe current ‘Melayu’, in order to be consistent with archaeologists’ rendering of the name ofthe earliest Sumatran kingdom as ‘Malayu’. The people of this kingdom would have thus beenorang Malayu, or the people of Malayu. Even after the demise of Malayu, the people who spokethe Malayu language and adhered to a culture developed during the Srivijaya/Malayu periodwould have been regarded as ‘Malayu’.8For a good introduction to the study of ethnicity, see Eriksen 1993. A clear discussion of thedifferent positions in the debate on ethnicity can be found in Cornell and Hartmann 1998. A use-ful and thoughtful synthesis of the issues raised in the study of ethnicity can be found in Kipp
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The Trans-Sumatra Trade and the Ethnicization ofthe ‘Batak’371be gained from creating a particular ethnic unity. A view with less emphasison the material and more on the psychological advantages is Horowitz’s ideaof ‘group entitlement’. According to Horowitz, a group’s enhancement of sta-tus and prestige in the eyes of others serves to bolster the individual’s ownsense of pride and self-worth (Horowitz 1985:185, 226-7). Basic to the notionof ethnic identity is the fact that ethnic consciousness arises through contactwith others who are different. As Eriksen explains, ‘ethnicity is essentially anaspect of a relationship, not a property of a group’ (Eriksen 1993:11-2). Oncedifference is established, it is necessary to exploit this difference through theestablishment of ethnic markers or boundaries. Barth suggests that one focuson ‘boundaries’, rather than the ‘cultural elements’ contained within suchboundaries (Barth 1969:11). In other words, how a group defines and con-tinues to maintain itself against another can be far more revealing of ethnicidentity than obvious outward signs such as dress, food, or even language.9An ethnic group then creates legitimacy and group loyalty through the pro-cess of ‘inventing traditions’ and ‘imagining communities’.10While social scientists have been at the forefront of such studies, histo-rians are still to be convinced of the value of ‘ethnicity’ as a useful or evenvalid historical pursuit. They may share the Comaroffs’ concern at the lackof agreement on whether ethnicity is an analytic object, a conceptual subject,or both (Comaroff and Comaroff 1992:49). The reluctance of historians toengage the concept of ethnicity in their studies has resulted in an unreflec-tive acceptance of ethnic communities as somehow fixed forever in time. Yetanthropological studies have demonstrated the fluidity and complexity ofethnic identities, particularly in Southeast Asia. Edmund Leach’s classic 1954study of the Kachin in Burma reveals the ease with which a Kachin couldbecome Shan and a Shan Kachin through a preference for one over anotherform of social system (Leach 1954). Viewing the ethnic problem from a differ-ent perspective, O’Connor argues that ecological adaptation, language, andagricultural techniques are significant shifts which can explain the so-called’rise’ and ‘fall’ of ethnic groups (O’Connor 1995:987).Among the insights of particular relevance for this essay are: (1) contact1996:17-24. As mentioned, the literature on ethnicity is vast and the approaches greatly varied.Historians have yet to contribute much to this literature, with the one major exception of Smith1986 and Smith and Hutchinson 1996, both excellent sources for historians interested in ethnicity.9Nevertheless, Rita Kipp rightfully points out that the outsider still has the task of determin-ing which of the ‘differences’ – for example, language, dress, religion, or other – would be thesignificant ethnic marker or ‘boundary’ (Kipp 1996:19).10The term ‘invention of traditions’ comes from Hobsbawm and Ranger 1983. Equally well-known is Benedict Anderson’s term ‘imagined communities’ from his book of the same name (B.Anderson 1983). These scholars focused on the manner in which new, or even not particularlynew, nations invented traditions or found commonalities in order to emphasize their sharedidentity and hence unity.
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BenzoinCamphor60 kmMap 1. Location of camphor and benzoin forests (from Perret 1995)
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The Trans-Sumatra Trade and the Ethnicization ofthe ‘Batak’373with another group is essential to ethnic consciousness; (2) the group is cre-ated to promote its advantage; and (3) certain ethnic markers are emphasized,’invented’, and ‘imagined’ to provide the primordial sentiments for groupsolidarity. These insights are useful in assessing historical inter-group relationswithin Sumatra, where borderlands provide the opportunity for individuals tomove in and out of ethnicities. Evidence of ethnic shifts from Batak to Malayuand vice versa has been noted by both Milner (1982) and Perret (1995); lesswell documented but equally revealing have been the historical ethnic shiftsbetween the Batak and the Minangkabau, and the Batak and the Acehnese.Before examining these ethnic shifts, a significant question that must beasked is why there should have been a need for a larger ethnic identity in thefirst place (Kahn 1993:15). In an effort to seek an answer, I have attempted todescribe the process of ‘ethnicization’ of the Batak. I use this term to indicatea deliberate decision by the Batak to emphasize their ethnicity for a particularadvantage. On thebasis of origin tales and linguistic evidence, I have assumedthat the Batak occupied the area around Lake Toba in the interior of north-ern Sumatra in the first millennium AD (Bellwood 1997:122).nInternationaltrade, I argue, was a major catalyst in the movement of Batak from the Tobahighlands towards both coasts, though personal and environmental reasonsalso contributed to the out-migration. The interior redistribution centresand the international marketplaces on the coasts exposed the Batak to newpeoples, new ideas, and new products. In searching for economic advantagein the highly competitive market environment, they sought support amongtheir kinfolk, both real and fictive, by ethnicizing their Batak identity. Thelast part of the essay then suggests which boundaries were erected by theethnicized ‘Batak’ as part of a strategy to maximize economic advantage andemphasize their unique self-worth.The camphor and benzoin tradeThe camphor (Dryobalanops aromatica Gaetn.f.) and benzoin {Styrax benzoin,Dryander) trade provided the first, though indirect, evidence of Batak parti-11There is no archaeological evidence to reconstruct early habitation of this area, and so Iam basing my assumption on linguistic evidence. According to linguists, much of the spread ofWestern Malayo-Polynesian languages occurred after 1500-1000 BC and included the Malayicspeakers. There was an earlier spread of Western Malayo-Polynesian languages which includedthose of the Batak and the Gayo of northern Sumatra. Linguists rightfully warn against equatinglanguage with language speakers, since an earlier population could adopt the language of a new-comer. Unless more conclusive evidence is presented on the ethnicity of the group that occupiedthe Toba highlands, I will assume that the inhabitants were ancestors of the group that came to beidentified in later centuries as the Batak. I am grateful to K.A. Adelaar for his informed commentson this subject.
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374Leonard Y. Andayacipation in international commerce. These forest resins were among the prod-ucts in greatest demand at the major port-cities in the Straits of Melaka fromthe early fifth century, and in Srivijaya between the seventh and eleventhcentury. Camphor and benzoin trees grow in the areas of northern Sumatranow occupied by the Batak (Wolters 1969:111-2,124-5,230-1).12Camphor wasa highly prized luxury item and so valued in China that it was placed ona par with gold (Donkin 1999:127).13Benzoin was regarded as a substitutefor myrrh (Commiphora tnukul Engl.) in southern China by the sixth century,and later came to replace it as a permanent, valuable commodity in China,Western Asia, and Europe (Wolters 1969:111). In addition to their much-vaunted medical qualities as a cure for a host of illnesses and complaints14,camphor and benzoin were difficult to obtain, which further contributed tothe high prices they could command in the marketplace.The camphor tree is one of the largest of the dipterocarps in westernIndonesia, reaching a height of between sixty and seventy metres. It growsat altitudes of 60 to more than 365 metres above sea level on well-drainedsoils and often on steep ridges. These conditions are met in the Batak landsbetween Singkel and Air Bangis in northwest Sumatra. Benzoin trees grow inthe same areas and under similar conditions. They are found in clumps fromthe north of Padang Sidempuan to the area around Tarutung, as well as inthree locations from the mountain valley of the Lai Cinendang, a tributary ofthe Singkil River, northward to Sidikalang (see map 1). Camphor crystallizesin the wood of the tree from an oleoresin present in the tree itself and accumu-lates irregularly in the cavities of the trunk. Only after twelve years does the12The resin comes from a variety of species. The Styrax paralleloneurum produces a better-quality benzoin, but the most frequently mentioned in pharmaceutical and botanical literature isthe Styrax benzoin (Katz 1998:243-5).13Though no comparative prices are available for this period, a nineteenth-century reportestimates that between a half and 15 kati (280 grams to 8.38 kilograms) could be collected pertree, and one picul (56 kilograms) of camphor would cost 4000 guilders, a considerable sum inthe nineteenth century (Zeijlstra 1913:826).14Among the Chinese, camphor was used against all types of pain and against typhoid, intes-tinal discomfort, nasal polyps, rheumatism, eye disease, and so on (Ptak 1998:138). According toa ninth-century Nestorian physician to six caliphs, in the Arab lands camphor was regarded asone of the five basic aromatics. It was also used in medicines for gum and eye infections, as anastringent, and as a prophylactic against the disease-bearing warm winds’. Among the Persiansit was used as a cure for headaches, colds, and bulimia, and was an important ingredient, withrosewater and sandalwood, in a solution washed on walls during plagues or epidemics (Stephan1998:234-9). The Sumatrans and Europeans treated camphor as a medicine, using it for ‘strains,swellings, and rheumatic pains’ (Marsden 1966:153). Benzoin was used in China as an incense toexpel demons and attract benevolent spirits. There is an extensive description of its value fromthe tenth century, where it is prescribed as a remedy for a variety of conditions, from ‘warding offpoisonous cholera’ to preventing involuntary emissions by males’ (Wolters 1969:118-9). In Arabia,Persia, and parts of India it was used as an incense ‘to expel troublesome insects, and obviate thepernicious effects of unwholesome air or noxious exhalations […]’ (Marsden 1966:155).
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The Trans-Sumatra Trade and the Ethnicization ofthe ‘Batak’375tree produce the camphor, with the oldest trees supplying the greatest quan-tity and others yielding nothing at all (Burkill 1966, 1:876-81). Camphor waspresumably collected by Batak men under a special leader known in later cen-turies as pawang, whose spiritual prowess was employed in locating the elu-sive commodity. Nevertheless, even with the aid of religious practitioners andadherence to strict taboos, including the use of a special camphor language,expeditions were not always successful. Writing in the late eighteenth century,William Marsden claimed that not even 10% of all trees cut down yieldedany crystallized resin or camphor oil (Marsden 1966:150). Benzoin trees weretapped for their resin after seven years, but stopped producing after aboutten to twelve years. While it may have been easier to collect, the finest qualitycould only be obtained in the first three years of tapping. After that the qualitydeteriorated, hence its market value lowered (Marsden 1966:154-5,184).O.W. Wolters has shown that camphor and benzoin were appearing inChina, India and the Middle East by the early sixth century, though not in anysizeable quantities. But by the eighth century camphor was being includedin the tribute to the Chinese emperor from non-Indonesian rulers, indicatingthe growing value of the product in China. It also implies that there was verylikely an increase in the export of camphor from Indonesia (Wolters 1969:230-1, 233, 235-7). The export of benzoin to China may have begun as early as thefifth century, though some believe that it began as late as the eighth or eventhe ninth century (Katz 1998:259). The increased demand for camphor andbenzoin was met by Srivijaya, a kingdom founded in the late seventh centuryon the Musi River in Palembang (Wolters 1969:246-9; Coedes and Damais1992). Through a series of campaigns Srivijaya overcame its competitors andbecame the dominant entrepot in the area.A Srivijayan inscription placed at Ligor (Nakhon Si Thammarat) in AD775 indicates an expansion of Srivijayan power across the Straits of Melaka.A consequence of, and perhaps even an important motivation for, this expan-sion would have been the control of camphor supplies from the Isthmus andthe Malay Peninsula. In the annals of the Liang dynasty, which ruled Chinafrom 502 to 556, there is a reference to camphor coming from both Funan andLangyaxiu. It is believed that the latter is somewhere on the eastern side ofthe Malay Peninsula, while the civilization of Funan was centred in the southof modern Cambodia. Funan must have imported and redistributed the cam-phor, since it did not produce the Dryobalanops aromatica variety brought intoChina (Ptak 1998:137). Srivijaya’s incursion into the Malay Peninsula wouldhave prevented the further export of camphor to ports on the Mekong Delta.By the latter part of the eighth century, therefore, Srivijaya may have suc-ceeded in monopolizing the sale of camphor and benzoin in the region.A major source of Srivijayan camphor and benzoin was the forests innorthwest Sumatra. The supply route from these forests to Srivijaya went
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MELAKASTRAIT:TOBAPADANG LAWASSILINDUNG’• TarutunPanyabunganMAKhOAILINGHutan°Pa n>V_1> Muara SipongvZ^PsPariamanjf QU w SingkamkVINDIANOCE/ANMap 2. Areas to the south of Lake Toba
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The Trans-Sumatra Trade and the Ethnicization of the ‘Batak’377to Padang Lawas via Sipirok and the valley of the Batang Toru (see map 2).Padang Lawas appears to have been a collecting centre. From here there wasa route leading directly to Barus, as well as two alternative routes southward.One of the southern routes went via Padang Sidempuan to the valley of theBatang Angkola, while the other passed near Sibuhuan in Padang Lawasacross the mountains into the Angkola valley near SiAbu. From the Angkolavalley the route continued southward through Bonan Dolok to Penyabunganand Hutanopari in the Batang Gadis valley. It then crossed the mountains atMuara Sipongi to Rao.From Rao one could go directly to Muara Takus in the valley of the BatangMahat, a tributary of the Kampar Kanan. But the more frequently used routepassed through the valley of the Batang Sumpur, a tributary of the SungeiRokan Kiri, and then through Tanjung Medan and Lubuk Sikaping via Bonjolinto Minangkabau territory. The Batak most likely transferred the productsto the Minangkabau, who then completed the journey through their ownlands downriver to the Malayu in Srivijaya. There were again two alternativeroutes leading from Bonjol to Buo, from which place it was possible to reachthe headwaters of the Batang Hari, which is the major river through Jambi(Edwards McKinnon 1984, 2:340-2). From the Batang Hari the goods couldbe sold to the Malayu downriver and then transported by sea to Srivijaya.Another possibility was to use the tributaries linked by land routes lead-ing from the Jambi River to the Musi River in Palembang. One such routefollowed the tributary Tembesi River, which flowed down along the Jambi-Palembang border. From Ulu (upriver) Tembesi it was only eight days’ travelto Palembang and about twelve to Jambi (B. Andaya 1993:102).The method used to transport the camphor and benzoin in earlier cen-turies is not mentioned explicitly in the sources. From available evidence itappears that cargo was carried by men on their backs travelling on foot alongnarrow footpaths. Miksic describes a series of footpaths which ran from theinterior along the hills toboth the east and west coasts. Such trails were foundon the summits of the Batak highlands, as well as along the upper reachesof rivers such as the Panai and Bila (Miksic 1979:97,106). Even as late as themid-nineteenth century the Dutch linguist Van der Tuuk recalled an eveningwhen he hosted half a dozen Toba Batak in Barus who had transported theircargo of benzoin on their backs (Nieuwenhuys 1962:46). Though horses arementioned as an item of trade, it is difficult to find evidence of horses beingused to transport export products. Marsden writes that there were numeroushorses in the Batak lands and that the Batak supplied many to Bengkulen.Nevertheless, they kept their finest for ritual purposes and apparently asspecial delicacies for their festivals: ‘Horse-flesh’, according to Marsden, ‘theyesteem their most exquisite meat, and for this purpose feed them upon grain,and pay great attention to their keep’ (Marsden 1966:381). Such precious ani-
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378Leonard Y. Andayamals would most likely not have been used as beasts of burden.For nearly four centuries Srivijaya controlled the trade in forest productsin the region. Its success as a major entrepot to traders from around the worldaroused the envy of other major kingdoms seeking economic dominance inthe area. In 1025 the southern Indian kingdom of the Colas launched an attackand subdued Srivijaya and its dependencies along the Straits of Melaka.15Although Srivijaya recovered and reconstituted the kingdom on the BatangHari River in Jambi, the name Srivijaya disappeared from the records andwas replaced in the eleventh century by that of an entity known as ‘Malayu’.Following the Cola invasion, the temporary weakness of Srivijaya and itsJambi successor, Malayu, as well as the increasing volume of Indian Oceantrade, enabled several polities to emerge as suppliers of camphor and ben-zoin. Nevertheless, Srivijaya continued to maintain its overlordship intothe thirteenth century. Although its secondary centres and feeder ports hadalways had some direct trade with foreign merchants, after the late eleventhcentury this privilege emerged as a regular pattern. This development wastolerated as long as the vassal areas did not challenge Srivijaya’s orienta-tion away from the trans-shipment trade to the direct export trade in IndianOcean commodities (Soo 1998:306-8). Two of the most important of thesealternative ports were Barus and Kota Cina.Barus and Kota CinaThe location of the Tamil inscription dated 1088 from Lobu Tua near Barusis the strongest evidence so far for Barus’ return to prominence after thelate seventh century. The inscription was erected by a Tamil merchantguild, the Ayyavole-500 (The Five Hundred of the Thousand Directions’),which enjoyed the patronage of the Cola dynasty in Tamil Nadu, the Tamilhomeland in southern India. By the end of the eleventh century the guild inIndia had begun to include several ethnolinguistic groups among its ranksand had become established in a number of coastal towns. The Lobu Tuainscription refers to the guild ‘having met at the velapuram in Varocu, alsocalled the […] pattinam […]’. ‘Varocu’ is the name for Barus, but there is adifference of opinion about the meaning of the terms velapuram and pattinam.Subbarayalu (1998:30-3) believes that the former refers to the harbour, whilethe latter describes the town itself. Christie (1998:257), on the other hand,interprets ‘pattinam’ as designating Barus as a commercial centre of the first15Edwards McKinnon (1996:88) suggests that the Tamil merchant guild may have been theinstigator of Cola intervention in Srivijaya territories, with a view to gaining economic advantagein the increasingly profitable international trade flowing through the Straits of Melaka.
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The Trans-Sumatra Trade and the Ethnicization ofthe ‘Batak’379rank, and ‘velapurarrC as referring to the enclave of Lobu Tua as a trading set-tlement of secondary rank.16Permission was required for admission to thecity, and prices in the trade in aromatics (kasturi) were calculated in gold.17As an international port, Barus would have had a mixed population, thoughits core inhabitants may have been Batak. Direct overland routes from thenearby camphor forests directly to Barus helped assure the city’s reputationas a reliable supplier of that prized commodity. Camphor from Barus couldcommand such high prices that Batak collectors working on the right bankof the Singkel River in the sixteenth century did not sell their product at thenearby port of Singkel, but took it to the more distant port of Barus (Miksic1979:94).Ptak (1998:139-40) believes that, though Barus was frequented by Indiansand other traders from the west, it was not a major port for the export ofcamphor to China. Song and Yuan texts, that is, information from the tenthto the fourteenth century, do not indicate a regular trade contact betweenwest-coast Sumatra and the southern Chinese ports of Guangdong, Fujianand Zhejiang.18The strong Chinese trade in camphor and benzoin wasmost likely focused on another port located on the northeast coast bearingthe revealing name Kota Cina (‘Chinese Stockade’).19Chinese traders weremore familiar with Sumatra’s northeast coast and the Straits of Melaka20andwould presumably have gone to Kota Cina, rather than to Barus itself, to16Joustra explains that ‘lobu’ means ‘abandoned settlement’ (Joustra 1910:28). ‘Lobu Tua’,meaning ‘the old abandoned settlement’, could have been the name of an earlier centre whichlater moved to the town of Barus.17In Sanskrit the word ‘kasturi’ refers to musk. Since musk does not occur in the Barus area,Subbarayalu has suggested that the term may have been used to refer symbolically to aromaticsin general (Subbarayalu 1998:31-2; Edwards McKinnon 1996:91).18This may account for Edwards McKinnon’s speculation, based on Chinese ceramic evi-dence at Lobu Tua, that the site was abandoned at about the time of the foundation of Kota Cina(Edwards McKinnon 1996:89).19The name originates from a common practice among’the Chinese to create a fortifiedenclosure to protect themselves and their goods while awaiting a shift in monsoon winds beforeresuming their journey to India (Miksic 1996:292).20Pulau Kompei on Aru Bay is another important place on the northeast Sumatran coastwhich produced trade ceramics in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. This is probably the site ofthe Kompei mentioned in Chinese sources as having sent a mission to China in AD 662. Woltershas suggested that ‘P’o-lo’, which sent a mission to China in the seventh century, was locatedin northeast Sumatra. On the same coast flourished Panai between the tenth and fourteenthcenturies, and Aru from the late thirteenth to the early seventeenth century. Milner et al. sug-gest that Aru and Deli were different names for the same place. According to Tengku Luckman,the kingdom of Serdang then split off from the from the old Deli kingdom in the seventeenthcentury. Between the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries Asahan, on the same coast, becamea prominent kingdom and an outlet for products from the Batak interior (Nik Hassan Shuhaimi1984:110; Wolters 1969:187, 193, 220; Milner, Edwards McKinnon, and Tengku Luckman 1978:18-9; Tengku Luckman 1986:39; Hirosue 1988:40-1).
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380Leonard Y. Andayaobtain forest resins. The existence of Song and Yuan sherds in interior sitesin Kota Bangun and Deli Tua appears to support this contention. Moreover,there would have been the added attraction of gold from the nearby minesin such areas as the Bohorok and Pengkuruan Rivers, some fifty kilometreswest of present-day Medan (Nik Hassan Shuhaimi 1984:109-10).Although Miksic stresses the Chinese component of the settlement,Edwards McKinnon argues that Kota Cina was predominantly a Tamiltrading settlement established by merchants like those responsible for theLobu Tua inscription in Barus. The existence of permanent religious struc-tures, including a Siva sanctuary and a Buddhist vihara, is indicative of theeconomic importance of the Tamil community for whom they were built(Edwards McKinnon 1987:86-7). Nevertheless, the Chinese were also a majorpresence in the city, judging by the ‘tens of thousands of Chinese porcelainsherds’ from between the twelfth and fourteenth centuries found on the site(Miksic 2000:111). Kota Cina was inhabited between the late eleventh andthe fourteenth century, and grew from a small village into a large settlementof some 10,000 inhabitants by the middle of the twelfth century (EdwardsMcKinnon 1996:89; Miksic 1996:292). The ruined site was mentioned by JohnAnderson on his trip to east-coast Sumatra in the early nineteenth centuryand was only ‘rediscovered’ in 1972 (J. Anderson 1971:294). Located somethree to four miles from the port of Belawan Deli, near the confluence of theBelawan River (known also as Hamparan Perak or Buluh Cina) and the DeliRiver, it was once accessible to sea-going ships (Edwards McKinnon 1984,1:9).The rise of Kota Cina should be viewed in the context of Tamil tradingactivity in Sumatra in this period. So far there are three known Tamil set-tlements in Kota Cina, Lhok Cut (Aceh), and Lobu Tua, and possible settle-ments at Neusu (Aceh, thirteenth century), Bahal 1 (Tapanuli Selatan in thePadang Lawas area), Buo (West Sumatra), and Kota Kandis on the BatangHari in Jambi (Edwards McKinnon 1996:87). It is noteworthy that the Tamil-inspired Buo inscription, the bronze imagery, and a possible temple founda-tion at Kota Kandis on the Batang Hari are located on a major route betweenthe resin forests in the Batak lands and Srivijaya/Malayu. Other Tamilinscriptions reinforce the view of a fairly extensive Tamil trade involvementin Sumatra. A provisional reading of the Tamil inscription found at Neusuappears to refer to trade regulations, while, the nearby site of Lhok Cut isbelieved to be the remains of an eleventh-century port. Two further Tamilinscriptions dating from the second half of the thirteenth century have beenfound. The first is a late thirteenth-century inscription found at Batu (orBandar) Bapahat, near Suruaso, in the Minangkabau highlands. Though notranscription or translation has been made, nor any archaeological contextprovided, the inscription may relate to the Minangkabau trade in camphor
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The Trans-Sumatra Trade and the Ethnicization of the ‘Batak’381and gold.21The second inscription is from Porlak Dolok near Paringginan inthe Padang Lawas area and dates from either 1258 or 1265. From what can beinferred from a very damaged text, the inscription commemorates an offer-ing made by the ruler as a meritorious act (Christie 1998:259-63). The sus-tained Tamil economic activity in north and west Sumatra from the eleventhto the fourteenth century provided the economic stimulus for the increasingparticipation of the Batak communities in the camphor and benzoin trade.These products continued to be transported southward to the entrepots inMalayu, but by the late eleventh century most of the supplies were going toBarus and Kota Cina.The founding of Kota Cina was not an isolated event but was part of thehistorical oscillation in the Straits between a single dominant entrepot and anumber of smaller dispersed ports exporting the products of their immedi-ate interior. Based on recent archaeological explorations in Singapore, Miksicbelieves that Kota Cina may have been simply one of a number of similar-type settlements along the Straits of Melaka, which came to include Singapore(circa 1300) and Melaka (beginning of the fifteenth century) (Miksic 2000:111-2). Contemporary with Kota Cina was a similar port at Pengkalan Bujang,across the Straits in Kedah, to the north of the Merbok River. The area ofSouth Kedah was a site for two important centres based at Kampung SungaiMas from the ninth century and at Pengkalan Bujang from the end of theeleventh century to approximately the beginning of the fourteenth century0acq-Hergoualc’h 1992:300). Though Jacq-Hergoualc’h considers these twosites to have been entrepot ports, Leong believes they were mainly a place forloading and offloading ships, whose cargoes were then redistributed on thePeninsula (Leong 1990:29). It is apparent that Kota Cina, too, served princi-pally as a depot for the supply of fresh water and Sumatran forest products.Though Kota Cina may have been the dominant port on the northeast coast,there were other possible outlets for Batak goods in this period.22The economic opportunities offered by Barus and Kota Cina as alternativesources of camphor and benzoin encouraged the Batak to move toward boththe east and west coasts in order to profit more directly from internationaltrade. Atrans-insular route, though difficult because of the rough and broken21The main Minangkabau gold-producing areas are located in Tanah Datar. According toDobbin, the main route to the east coast from the valley of the Sinamar around Buo and theSumpur around Sumpur Kudus was by water or land to the headwaters of the Indragiri Riverand then overland to the headwaters of a tributary of the Kampar Kiri (Dobbin 1983:60-1).Satyawati (1977:9) suggests that Adityavarman moved his centre to the Minangkabau highlandsin order to control the gold and camphor trade via the Kampar and Batang Hari Rivers.2 2Soo (1998:296) mentions Kampar and Lamuri, but other possible ports were Pulau Kompei,on Aru Bay, and Panai. Nevertheless, archaeological evidence seems to support the belief thatKota Cina was the dominant port during its existence.
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382Leonard Y. Andayaterrain, provided a safer alternative to the sea voyage from the west coastaround Aceh into the Straits. There was therefore an increase in the numbersof Batak beginning to settle along the new trade routes.Expansion of the Batak worldThe Toba area is said to have been populated by people migrating fromthe legendary first Batak village, Sianjur Mulamula, situated on the slopesof the sacred Pusuk Buhit on the western shore of Lake Toba. Pusuk Buhitis considered to be the birthplace of their common ancestor, Si Raja Batak,and the home of the most powerful deities. From here groups left and set-tled the series of valleys along the west coast of Lake Toba and then thesouthern shores of the lake (Toba-Holbung) in search of rice-growing landssimilar to those found in their homeland. They later fanned out to the islandof Samosir, to the highlands west of the lake (Humbang), to the Silindungvalley, and then westward to the coast (see map 2) (Situmorang 1993:41-2).In subsequent periods emigration from the Toba lands continued to occurin response to economic conditions. The process is known among the TobaBatak as marserak, which originally denoted migration within the territoriesof one’s marga or into lands not yet occupied by other marga.23According to marga origin tales, the point of dispersal was in the Tobahomeland (specifically the island of Samosir and the areas to the west andsouth of Lake Toba) and the Pakpak region west of the lake (see map 3).24Perret points out, however, that most European commentators place the ori-gin of the Batak peoples somewhere south of the Lake, where the Germanmission was strongest (Perret 1995:56, 60). Their reports, Perret infers, mayhave influenced later marga origin tales which acknowledge the Toba landsas the point of origin of their group. As I hope to show, however, the circum-stantial evidence suggests that the Toba area may indeed have been a majorcentre for later out-migrating Batak to both coasts and southward to thepresent-day Minangkabau homeland.As a result of the economic opportunities provided by Kota Cina andother east-coast Sumatran ports between the eleventh and fourteenth centu-23The meaning of marserak has now expanded to refer to economic and social mobility. Otherwords are currently in use to describe different types of migration (Purba and Purba 1997:22-5).It must be emphasized here that reasons for emigration of individuals and groups vary consid-erably. Economic opportunities, such as new trade possibilities, have always been a major pullfactor in migration.24This statement is based on genealogical stories contained in a number of sources, includingSangti 1977; Hoetagaloeng 1926; De Boer 1922; Keuning 1953/54; Wilier 1846; Van Dijk 1895; andJ.H. Neumann 1926.
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The Trans-Sumatra Trade and the Ethnicization ofthe ‘Batak’383ries, Batak groups moved eastward from the Lake Toba and Pakpak regionsusing a number of routes. Perret has drawn a useful map showing the spreadof various Karo marga from their homeland in the current Pakpak districts tothe present-day Karo region (see map 4). What is noteworthy is that the areaof the Karo homeland in the Pakpak districts is in close proximity to the cam-phor and benzoin forests.25The thriving trade in forest products encouragedthe establishment of settlements along the major routes which led from thecamphor and benzoin forests through passes in trie Bukit Barisan mountainsand finally down the rivers to Kota Cina. The shortest route from the Karohighlands to Kota Cina was via the Cingkem pass and then either down theSerdang River (known in Karo as Lau Tawang) or the Deli River (in Karo, LauPetani) to the coast (see map 5). But the easiest route from the highlands wasvia the Buaya pass, which followed the upper course of the Ular River (in Karo,Lau Buaya) to the area of Seribudolok on the border between the present-dayKaro and Simalungun lands. In the nineteenth century the most importantmarket for the Karo and Simalungun continued to be on this well-frequentedtrade route (Westenberg 1905:603). A focus of many of these routes, as wellas the paths leading to the Alas and Gayo lands, was the village of Seberaya,strategically located within a network of trails leading from the camphor- andbenzoin-producing forests, across the Karo plateau, down to Kota Cina andthe east coast (Edwards McKinnon 1996:69,1987:11, 22-4; Miksic 1979:254).South of Lake Toba one of the earliest trans-insular routes led from Sibolgaon the west coast, through a low pass in the mountains, to Gunung Tua andPortibi in the Padang Lawas region. Many of the sites from the eleventh tothe fourteenth centuries are located inland, their main function involvingtrade with the highland groups (Bronson et al. 1973:77). Miksic points outthat ceremonial sites, such as those at Padang Lawas and Muara Takus (onthe upper Kampar River), were often located near the border between thehighlands and the coastal plains and ‘may reflect some function in regulatingintercourse between highland and lowland groups’ (Miksic 1979:97, 103).26From Padang Lawas the major route southward passed through a number ofvalleys and towns to Rao. From Rao it was possible to go directly to MuaraTakus via a tributary of the Kampar River, but the more used route seems tohave been to Buo and then out to the Batang Hari River. These routes encour-25See Perret 1995:37, map ‘Karo migrations according to tradition’. Sinaga also cites evidencethat the Karo trace their roots to the Pakpak area, which in turn acknowledges an origin in Toba(Sinaga 1996:46-7).26In support of this claim, Edwards McKinnon suggests that the name of the village Portibi'(Batak for ‘region or quarter) may derive from the Sanskrit pertiwi, referring to a centre of power.In the Padang Lawas area there are two villages named Portibi: Portibi Jae (Downriver Portibi)and Portibi Julu (Upriver Portibi), which may have been associated with groups representing theuplands and the lowlands (Edwards McKinnon 1984,1:30-1).
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AcehPgmatangsiantarTanjungbalai60 kmMap 3. Early Toba migrations according to traditions collected by Vergouwen(from Perret 1995)
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The Trans-Sumatra Trade and the Ethnicization of the ‘Batak’385BinjeiMedany KutacaneSembiringTariganPeranginanginGintingSinurajaBarusSitepuLinggaBangunpurba’/ j ^Gunungrintih, ^ v , – • BarusjahePematangsiantarINDIANOCEAN15 kmMap 4. Karo migrations according to tradition (from Perret 1995)aged the migration of peoples from the area of Lake Toba southward into theregion that later came to be associated with the Angkola-Mandailing groups(J.B. Neumann 1885, 2:17-8).Migration from the Toba highlands to areas south of Lake Toba extendedinto regions of the Malayu and the Minangkabau. It may have begun some-time in the eighth century, with increased Srivijayan demand for camphor andbenzoin. According to some Malayu traditions from Kampar, the area of Raowas once Batak but was later seized by certain Minangkabau chieftains. Inaddition, the lands directly east of Rao were regarded as Batak. There is alsoa story of an attack in the past on Muara Takus by Batak based in Kuamang,which today is occupied by Malayu. In the nineteenth century a Dutchmanreported seeing in the neighbourhood of Kota Gelugur, on the Kampar River,a stone inscribed in Batak characters. He explained that the inscribed stonewas intended as a commemorative tablet in honour of the first village heads,assumed to be Batak in origin. Certain unique traits suggest that the peopleof the area may have originated from Mandailing. J.B. Neumann believes thatuntil the middle of the thirteenth century the Batak occupied the northernhalf of the Pasaman Mountains (known in Batak as Dolok Pasoman), which
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386Leonard Y. AndayaMELAKASTRAITSINDIANOCEANMap 5. Areas to the north and east of Lake Tobawere the source of the Rokan, Siak, and the Kampar Rivers. These mountains,he argues, marked the southernmost border of the Batak lands. In support ofthis argument, he explains in a footnote that the word ‘Pasoman’ indicates ‘theend of a world’ (J.B. Neumann 1885, 2:17-8). The fourteenth-century LubukLayang inscription found on the border of South Tapanuli, near PadangLawas, dates from the time of the Minangkabau ruler Adityavarman and isbelieved to have marked a frontier post set up to guard against attacks fromthe presumably Batak kingdom of Panai (Satyawati 1977:6).Ideas of a single Batak ethnicity were strengthened by the fact that manyof those who moved into new lands had a common origin. On the basisofgenealogies collected in Portibi and Mandailing in the early nineteenth cen-tury, Wilier concluded that these areas were settled by migrants from theToba homeland. Only after they had been in the area for a long time did anew noble lineage arrive claiming to be linked to the legendary rulers ofMinangkabau (Wilier 1846:262, 344-5, 400-2, 405). Other origin tales collectedby Batara Sangti indicate that the Lubis and the Nasution, two of the largest
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The Trans-Sumatra Trade and the Ethnicization of the ‘Batak’387marga in Angkola-Mandailing, stem from ancestors in the Lake Toba region(Sangti 1977:129-30).27The Lubis marga itself acknowledges that its foundingancestor, Namora Pande Bosi, ‘the great iron-smith’, originally came fromToba. Also claiming an origin in Toba is the Rangkuti, one of the oldest margain Mandailing. They believe that their ancestors were from the marga Parapat,part of the Borbor group, whose datu are particularly feared for the potencyof their black magic. This may account for the Rangkuti’s fame as the homeof powerful datu (Ypes 1944:141-2). Smaller marga in Mandailing, such as thePulungan, Parinduri, Rangkuti, and Borotan, all acknowledge a Toba origin.According to J. Keuning, two of the largest marga, the Mandailing Godangand Mandailing Julu, trace their ancestors to Toba lands (Keuning 1953/54:160-1; Vergouwen 1964:12).28This movement of Batak people may have occurred at the time of themost intensive use of the camphor-benzoin routes to Srivijaya/Malayu andKota Cina between the eighth and fourteenth centuries.29Once these groupsbecame established in their new lands, others were encouraged to join themin response to economic conditions that rose and fell in accordance with therhythm of international trade in the Straits of Melaka.30The rise of pepperas an export commodity proved to be a new factor contributing to Batakemigration from the well-populated areas around Lake Toba. In about thefifteenth century black pepper (Piper nigrum, Linn.) found a mass market inChina, where it was used in the preparation and preservation of food, andby the seventeenth century China may have been importing between ten27In the current climate of strong ethnic identification and pride in ethnic difference, somemay take issue with these findings, since Batara Sangti himself is a Toba Batak.28Mhd. Arbain Lubis, a modern local historian, rejects any idea of a Toba origin for theNasution marga, but argues that the ancestral figure, Si Beroar, was indigenous to Mandailing(Lubis 1993:193-6). This view represents a common trend among various groups who stresstheir difference with the Toba as a way of emphasizing their non-Batak identity. Batara Sangti,a Toba Batak, cites genealogies to show that the Lubis and Nasution, two of the largest margain Angkola-Mandailing, originated from the Toba area (Sangti 1977:129-30). There will be thosewho reject such claims because they represent views of a partial source.29After the Cola invasion of Srivijaya in 1025, the centre of activity shifted northward toJambi, to the old settlement known as Malayu. While the Srivijayan site on the Musi continuedto exist, it was the Malayu kingdom, with capitals both on the coast and in the interior, whichattracted the attention of foreign merchants. In the late thirteenth century, the Javanese kingdomof Singosari under King Kertanagara attempted to assert its overlordship in the upper reachesof the Batang Hari. The rivalry between the rulers of Java and Sumatra eventually led to themovement of the interior Malayu kingdom even further inland to the mountains of the BukitBarisan. This then gave rise to the Malayu kingdom in the highlands of Minangkabau underAdityavarman in the fourteenth century (L. Andaya 2001b).30A similar response to economic opportunities is recorded among the Iban groups ofSarawak. Iban migration is a well-known phenomenon which continues to the present day. They,like the Batak, moved into empty lands or into sparsely populated areas, quickly absorbing ordominating the local inhabitants (Pringle 1970:249-51).
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388Leonard Y. Andayaand twelve thousand picul (1 picul = 60.5 kg) of pepper annually. Europe alsobecame a major market for pepper, and by 1500 was importing about twelvehundred tonnes yearly. To meet this burgeoning demand the Sumatran king-doms of Aceh, Palembang, and Jambi increased their pepper production.Some of the Batak may have been enticed to move to the hinterland of thesekingdoms to participate in pepper planting.31Aceh, at the northern tip ofthe island, began to transform some of its interior areas into pepper lands,and Sultan Iskandar Muda (1607-36) expanded pepper cultivation downboth coasts. He conquered other pepper-producing areas across the Straits,in Kedah and Perak, to monopolize their production (B. Andaya 1993:43-6;Lombard 1967:66).The cultivation of pepper was labour-intensive and required almost con-tinual attention. Once the men had cleared the forests and planted the pep-per, the women and children were responsible for putting in support plants,training the pepper vines around them, and weeding the root areas of thepepper vine. The first pepper harvest came after the fourth year, with a largeand a minor harvest annually thereafter. The pepper-growers were thereforekept busy picking, cleaning, drying, and bagging the fruit for much of theyear. It was estimated that it took a woman an entire day to sift a picul of pep-per berries. Because of the labour involved in growing pepper, most familiescould not plant rice at the same time (B. Andaya 1993:70).As the powerful rulers of Aceh, Palembang, and Jambi required moreand more of their subjects to plant pepper, rice production in these areasdeclined. Rice had to be imported to feed the families now occupied full-time in the pepper fields. The surplus rice from the extensive wet-rice(sawah) fields of the Minangkabau and the Batak in the interior of centraland north Sumatra became the favoured source of supply. Rice, which wasordinarily scarce in Aceh, was available in great abundance under SultanIskandar Muda (Lombard 1967:73). A major source of Aceh’s supply was theeast-coast polities of Tamiang, Deli, and Asahan, which he seized in order togain control of the rice grown in their hinterlands mainly by Batak. By themid-seventeenth century, Aceh was importing about 400 tonnes of rice fromDeli alone (Hirosue 1994:21). In the late seventeenth century a Chinese wholived for ten years among the Batak in the hinterland of Deli described theover-abundance of rice which the numerous inhabitants enjoyed annually (F.31Bugis slaves were used to plant pepper in Jambi and Palembang in the seventeenth centurybecause many local people refused to remain involved in the strenuous task of pepper cultivation(B. Andaya 1993:96-7). Batak migrants willing to plant pepper would have been welcome in theseSumatran kingdoms. Even in the early nineteenth century, when the peak of the pepper trade hadalready passed, Anderson noted large numbers of Batak engaged in pepper production in theinterior of Deli. He observed that in the pepper season the river at the ford in Sunggal ‘is almostimpassable for the multitudes of people who flock there with produce’ 0- Anderson 1971:258).
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The Trans-Sumatra Trade and the Ethnicization of the ‘Batak’389de Haan 1877:647-8).The lands in the Lake Toba region were well known as a major source offood, in particular rice and various types of root crops. When the missionar-ies Burton and Ward visited the Silindung valley in 1824, they remarked thatrice and sweet potatoes were widely grown: ‘The former is produced both onthe hills and in the vallies in great abundance, and forms a principal article oftheir barter with the bay. On the hills it is grown by the dry process, accord-ing to the common practice with mountain rice; in the valleys irrigation isemployed with some ingenuity. The sweet potatoe grows luxuriantly inevery part of the country, but occupies chiefly the sides of the hills.’ (Burtonand Ward 1827:510.) In the Karo lands sawah fields irrigated by small streamswere laid out mainly in the dusun (the Karo plains from the foothills to theeast coast); whereas in the highlands they were located in the ravines. Dry-rice (ladang) cultivation was more typical in the highlands. The Simalungunareas grew ladang east of the Karei River, and sawah in the ravines. The Purbadistrict and some pockets adjoining Lake Toba were planted in sawah, butladang cultivation was more common (Westenberg 1905:579-80). In the landssouth of Lake Toba, rice surpluses arose as a result of the extensive cultiva-tion of sawah in the fertile valleys of the lowlands of Mandailing Godang(Groot Mandailing), and ladang in the highlands of Mandailing Julu (KleinMandailing) (Wilier 1846:370, 373). The sawah fields in the Padang Lawasregion, particularly those in Ulu Barumun, were also noted for their pro-ductivity (Joustra 1910:286, 293, 302-3). Much of the extra labour required tobring these new lands under cultivation would have come from the popu-lous areas in the Lake Toba region with their experienced food producers,thus giving rise to another movement of people from the Lake area to landsin Karo, Simalungun, and Angkola-Mandailing.While the international demand for camphor, benzoin, and pepper pro-vided a major stimulus for Batak migration (marserak), other factors contrib-uted to the process. They were status enhancement through the founding ofnew villages, desire for land, family disputes, the desire for safety from ene-mies, and the need to find new land for a growing population (Vergouwen1964).32Other more cultural motives for continuing Toba Batak migrationsmentioned by modern scholars are the desire for a long life and numerousdescendants (hagabeon); prosperity and well-being (hamoraon); social status(hasangapon); ability to exercise authority {sahala harajaon); and skill in gainingrespect (sahala hasangapon) (Purba and Purba 1997:21).As a result of the extension of the Batak world into new areas, modifica-tions in the existing marga system occurred. Individuals became members32See also ‘Nota over de Landsgroten van Deli’ (unpublished manuscript owned by TengkuSinar Luckman, with no indication of original source), p. 15.
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390Leonard Y. Andayaof new marga through migration, adoption, and birth from ‘incestuous’ rela-tionships (that is, marriage between members of the same marga) (Ypes 1932:v). The lands now occupied by the Karo, the Simalungun, and the Angkola-Mandailing offer more examples of newly formed marga than the Toba areas.The Toba have extensive genealogies tracing groups to the primeval ances-tor, Si Raja Batak, whereas Simalungung genealogies, for example, rarely gobeyond three generations (Clauss 1982:44). When Van der Tuuk was trans-lating the Old Testament into Toba Batak in the mid-nineteenth century, hefound that what interested the Toba most were the long biblical genealogies(Nieuwenhuys 1962:47). In the following century Keuning (1948:15-6) alsonoted the great Toba interest in and knowledge of the links among the marga.People would explain how the marga came to form a main marga, which werethe oldest, middle, and youngest, and how marga came to give rise to evenlarger marga, culminating in the moieties of the Lonrung and the Sumba.The tendency for the Batak, other than the Toba, to downplay genealogicaldepth may reflect the relative newness of their marga and therefore the needto emphasize other more useful linkages than that of an ancestral lineage.The Karo today usually characterize their society by and base theiridentity on the idea of the Merga Silima, or ‘the Five Marga’.33They are themarga Karo-Karo, Peranginangin, Ginting, Tarigan, and Sembiring, which allclaim an origin from lands to the west. J.H. Neumann (1926:2-3) suggestedthat the ‘original’ inhabitants were a small marga, Karo Sekali, on the basisof their name, which he translated as ‘genuine or true Karo’ (echte Karo), butthat idea has been challenged.34Unlike the Toba, with their extended patri-lineally based genealogies going back to a common mythical ancestor, theKaro emphasize the matrimonial bonds among the five major clans and thealliances created in the formation of new marga under a local mother marga(Kipp 1996:34; Singarimbun 1975:71-6; Sinaga 1996:283).35Equally strikingis Singarimbun’s claim that the ‘Karo do not possess any myth of the originof their own society’, nor a ‘ritual center’. The Karo clans, he argues, are notdescent groups, ‘have no history of common origin’, and ‘do not regard them-selves as agnatically related to one another’ (Singarimbun 1975:70, 72).Simalungun society is very much like that of the Karo in stressing theequality of the four basic marga of the Saragih, Purba, Damanik and Sinaga,and ignoring the importance of long genealogical links to the founder of33Merga is the Karo term, but I have used marga throughout this essay to avoid confusion.34Rita Kipp first raised doubts about Neumann’s interpretation, which identified this margaas the first or original Karo, because it was found in only one ward in a village (Kipp 1996:44).Neumann’s views, however, seem to have been adopted by Batak authors themselves; see, forexample, Sangti 1977:129-30.35See also Sinaga 1996:284-7 for a description of how immigrants from the Toba and Pakpakareas became part of newly formed Karo marga.


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