Cannibalism in Batak culture was to show how strong the law if they do break the law.western country used to hang people if they do break the law.

Therefore, the question

of whether the people of the region were really eating human flesh is of

secondary importance to the present article. Although it goes without

saying that much caution is needed to prove “anthropophagy” as historical

fact; there is no doubt that the practice was in fact widely believed by

Arabian, Chinese and European travelers to have existed in various parts

of Southeast Asia,




despite the fact that those foreign visitors did not (at

least until the nineteenth century) usually travel to the inland locations

where the inhabitants were suspected of being “cannibals.” When they

did begin to venture there during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries,

most of their descriptions were based on information provided by

local chiefs, who seemed to go out their way to circulate stories about

“cannibalism” among foreign visitors.

North Sumatra, the geographical locus of this article and one of the

“hot beds” of “cannibalism” within Southeast Asian ethnography, was

from the era of




vijaya in the seventh century a well-known producer of

good quality camphor and gold.




Then from at least the ninth century,

the region was frequently said to be inhabited by anthropophagates.




During the early modern era, when north Sumatra became the stage for

the fairly prosperous coastal entrepôts of Pasai and Aceh for pepper, talk

of inland “cannibals” was widely spread and amplified among foreign visitors.

These rumours continued into the nineteenth century, when north

Sumatran coastal cities again attracted many foreign visitors after trade

around the Straits Settlements became active.






The research to date has tended to argue that “cannibalism” rumours

discouraged foreign visitors from approaching the north

Sumatran coast. For example, O. Wolters in his discussion of the rise of





vijaya infers that the northern Sumatran coast, which had no easily

navigable river from the sea, was probably isolated in early times, because

it was vulnerable to attack from the interior.




Instead of north

Sumatra, he emphasizes the importance of south Sumatra in the rise of







vijaya, because of its navigable river habour open to the sea. However,

such a view cannot satisfactorily account for the historical fact of Pasai

and Aceh becoming prosperous habours and rumours of northern inland

“cannibals” becoming more and more rampant than ever before.

Here I will attempt to show that north Sumatran coastal rulers, their

entourages and local chiefs were the primary sources of stories about

“cannibalism” among the inland people. The north Sumatran case suggests

that by means of “cannibalism” rumours, coastal rulers were better

able to control local trade with foreign merchants by frightening them

out of making direct contact with inland people. Then after those coastal

rulers were subjected to European colonial rule during the nineteenth

century, it was inland chiefs who took up the campaign to advertise “cannibalism”

among their villagers, for the purpose of appealing to foreigners

the importance of their role in mediating between foreigners and the


42 The Memoirs of the Toyo Bunko, 63, 2005

local “cannibals”.

1. “Cannibalism” and Prosperity in the Coastal Entrepôts

Rumours about “cannibalism” in various parts of Southeast Asia

seem to have circulated since early times. For example, Ptolemy’s








, written in the second century, mentions that the inhabitants

of the islands of Barusai, which scholars suggest may be identified with

the islands facing the western Sumatran coast at Barus,




were anthropophagous.

The seventh century Chinese chronicle,



Liang-shu 􀾊􀥻

, also

states that the people of “P’i-k’ien,” which was subject to Funan, devoured

criminals and foreign merchants. The research to date suggests

that P’i-k’ien was either somewhere on the Southeast Asian mainland





or located on Sumatra.




Although it is difficult to identify the locations

of Barusai and P’i-k’ien exactly, some parts of Southeast Asia seem to

have since antiquity been well-known for “cannibalism.”

From at least the ninth century, Arabic materials began to refer frequently

to north Sumatra as producing precious mineral and forest products,

while at the same time being populated by “man-eaters.” Akhb




r al-






n wa’l-Hind (ca. A. D. 850) says that on the island of Ramni (Lambri in

north Sumatra), gold and good quality camphor were produced and that

its inhabitants were cannibals.




Also, the ninth century description by

Ibn Khurd




dhbih mentions that Balus (north Sumatra), which was two

days’ sailing distance from Kilah (Kedah), produced good quality camphor

and that its inhabitants were anthropophagous.




In the tenth century,





’ib al-Hind described the people between Fansur (present day

Barus) and Lambri and those in Kedah and the island of Nias as cannibals.




To Arabian travelers, north Sumatra and the west coast of the Malay

Peninsula were important entry points into Southeast Asia. Their location,

gold and good quality camphor attracted these travelers to Lambri,

Fansur and Kedah despite rumours of “cannibalism.”




The above ninth

and tenth century Arabic sources generally suggest that Arabian travelers

first arrived at either north Sumatran ports, Nias or Kedah, then

sailed to the central port of Z




baj. Descriptions of “cannibalism” in north

Sumatra continued to appear after many Chinese merchants began sailing

into the Indian Ocean during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries.





This was also the case during the early modern era, when north Sumatra

became one of the major pepper producing centres in Southeast Asia.

European Travelers and Local Informants in the Making of the Image of “Cannibalism” in North Sumatra 43

Why did such rumours of “cannibalism” persist for such a long time

among foreign travelers?

Nineteenth and early twentieth century European travelers claimed

that they had verified the rumours of human flesh consumption during

their explorations in north Sumatra. According to these “eyewitness” accounts,

the Batak people who dwelled around Lake Toba would occasionally

execute wounded prisoners who were judged unsuitable to be

slaves and men who had committed adultery with the daughters of chieftains,

then ate them.




Such a practice might have existed from early

times; however, what is important to the argument here is that prior to

the nineteenth century, accounts concerning “cannibalism” in Sumatra

were not based on eyewitness experiences. It is therefore highly probable

that the coastal inhabitants who had contact with the inland people were

their main sources of information. Marco Polo, who visited north

Sumatra in 1292–93, gives us some useful information on this point.

When in the company of about two thousand men on a mission from

Kublai Khan to take a princess to Persia, Polo stopped at Samudra

(Pasai) and stayed there for five months waiting for favourable weather.

He writes that the ruler of Samudra was powerful and rich and called

himself a subject of Kublai Khan, and that the people of the city were

“wild Idolaters”. He also states,




When Messer Mark [Marco] was detained on this Island five months

by contrary winds, (he landed with about 2000 men in his company;

they dug large ditches on the landward side to encompass the party,

resting at either end on the sea-haven, and within these ditches they

made bulwarks or stockades of timber) for fear of those brutes of

man-eaters; (for there is great store of wood there; and the islanders

having confidence in the party supplied them with victuals and other

things needful.)

Polo was so fearful of “cannibals” among the inland people that he stuck

to the coast and even constructed defensive fortifications there.

However, in due course the local people came to trust the visitors. Polo

was unable to verify the existence of “man-eaters”. Before arriving at

Samudra, he also refers to inland “cannibals” in the north Sumatran port

of Perlak, where, according to his account, some of the coastal inhabitants

had just become Muslims.






44 The Memoirs of the Toyo Bunko, 63, 2005

This kingdom [Perlak], you must know, is so much frequented by the

Saracen merchants that they have converted the natives to the Law

of Mahommet —I mean the townspeople only, for the hill-people live

for all the world like beasts, and eat human flesh, as well as all other

kinds of flesh, clean or unclean.

Besides Pasai and Perlak, Polo also mentions the inland “cannibals” of

the port of Dagroian, which he says was located between Pasai and





As was the case in Pasai, Polo kept exclusively to the coast.

Neither the above description of the hill-dwelling cannibals of Perlak nor

that of the inland cannibals of Dagroian was based on his own observation.

Whenever foreigners dropped in at a port, they would first pay a visit

to the ruler of the port city in order to pay homage to him and clarify

their purpose for being there. When J. Anderson, a staff member of the

English East India Company, visited the north Sumatran port cities of

Deli and Batubara in 1823 and paid his initial visit to the local rulers, he

was told by some guardsmen that they had come from the inner Batak region

and that they had eaten human flesh a number of times.




To those

foreigners who had not entered the hinterland from the port cities, such

stories appeared highly reliable. Marco Polo may have also gained information

about the “cannibalism” of the inland people from port city

rulers or members of their entourages.

Polo and his companions not only safely sojourned without incident

in Pasai and Dagroian, whose rulers claimed to be subjects of Kublai

Khan, but also in Perlak, the ruler of which was a Muslim. This was also

the case of Odoric




(fourteenth century) and later European travelers

during the early modern era,




who generally referred to the existence

of inland “cannibals” in north Sumatra, but all safely returned from

Lambri (Aceh), Pasai, Barus and other north Sumatran ports. No matter

how widely the rumours of “anthropophagy” spread among foreign travelers,

coastal rulers guaranteed their safety while in the ports under their

jurisdiction. Those travelers who were reluctant to come into direct contact

with inland people for fear of “cannibalism” chose to stay in the

coastal entrepôts, like Marco Polo, who even constructed bulwarks to

protect himself. It was in this way that coastal rulers played a crucial role

of intermediary between foreign visitors and the inland people.


European Travelers and Local Informants in the Making of the Image of “Cannibalism” in North Sumatra 45

2. Relations Between Coastal Rulers and the Hinterland People

In order to attract foreign visitors, coastal rulers needed to make

close connections with the inland people nearby to guarantee a steady

supply of forest, mineral, and food products. Here is one interesting example

from the chronicle of the royal family of Pasai (




Hikayat Raja-Raja





Its kingdom was established around the end of the thirteenth century,

just before Marco Polo’s visit to north Sumatra, and became a prosperous

port polity during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. The

chronicle was likely written around the middle of the fourteenth century

with the purpose of legitimizing the family’s rule over its kingdom.

According to it, the first king of Pasai, Merah Silu, was the offspring of a

bamboo girl who was found in the forest and raised by a north Sumatran

king and a boy who was brought up in the forest by a white elephant.





Bamboo often represents the vital energy of botanical plants, and the elephant

is regarded as the king of beasts. The child was therefore believed

to share the powers of the flora and fauna in the Sumatran forests.

While still in his youth, Merah Silu successfully changed galley

worms into gold by boiling them and tamed many wild buffalos using

the powers given him by his parents. He became very rich and famous

among the local people of Beruana (Bireuen), his north Sumatran coastal

home. However, he had a falling out with his brother, who became highly

jealous of his fame. Merah Silu then left Beruana and traveled into the

headwaters of the Pasangan River to find a new home. The inland people

of Buloh Telang, which according to the chronicle was a prosperous

agricultural region, allowed him to stay among them. There he spent

most of his time gambling. When he lost, he would pay the sum waged,

but he never asked for anything when he won. He even gave every visitor

a buffalo he had tamed. The people praised his wealth and generosity

and agreed that he should be their king. With the support of these people,

Merah Silu was able to build a city, which he named “Semudera”





and rule over it.

Then a chief of Rimba Jeran by the name of Sultan Maliku’l-Nasar,

who also claimed kingship over the people of the upper Pasangan River

basin, declared war on Merah Silu. With the support of the people of

Buloh Telang, Merah Silu was able to capture Maliku’l-Nasar’s stronghold

in the inner mountainous region of north Sumatra and bring it under

his rule. The chronicle relates that one night after the victory, Merah



46 The Memoirs of the Toyo Bunko, 63, 2005

Silu had a dream of the Prophet Muhammad, who revealed Islam to him

and told him that soon a ship would come to Pasai from Mecca carrying

Syaikh Ismail. Upon his arrival, Ismail converted Merah Silu to Islam

and proclaimed him Sultan Maliku’l-Saleh over the Islamic kingdom of

Pasai. It was in this way that the authority of the first king of Pasai was legitimized

by virtue of his bamboo-elephant heritage, his support by hinterland

people of the upper Pasagan River and Islam.

Since the hinterland of Pasai produced gold, camphor and, from as

late as the fifteenth century, pepper, connections with the inland people

were very important to the city. The conversion to Islam was significant

to Pasai in order to attract Muslim merchants from west Asia and south

India. Sultan Maliku’l-Saleh was a historical figure who, according to the

description on his tomb, died in 1297 (or 1307).




The chronicle also

states that Maliku’l-Saleh’s successors were generally pious Muslims.

Tomé Pires, a Portuguese trader who visited Sumatra in the 1510s, relates

that there were many rich Muslim merchants from Arabia, Persia and

Bengal at Pasai during first half of fifteenth century.




Despite the fact

that Pasai became one of the most prosperous coastal entrepôts in maritime

Southeast Asia during that time, relations between the royal family

of Pasai and the hinterland people were based upon Sumatran tradition.

Sultan Maliku’l-Nasar, who had declared war on Merah Silu, may have

been a Muslim as his title says, but Islam was by no means an important

factor when Merah Silu first established connections with inland peoples.

Although the chronicle mentions that those inhabitants of Pasai who

refused to embrace Islam fled to the upper reaches of the Pasangan





in general, good relations between Pasai and the hinterland people

were closely maintained. In fact, the hinterland people who brought

commercial products to Pasai while cultivating their own crops respected

the authority which the royal family of Pasai claimed and associated with

the Sumatran forests.




It was in this way that the ruler of Pasai on the

coast became a mediator between the inland Sumatran world and the

Islamic world, not vice versa.

Another north Sumatran chronicle eulogizing the royal family of

Downstream Barus (Barus Hilir), which existed between around the beginning

of the sixteenth and nineteenth century, shows an interesting

agreement between a coastal ruler and the hinterland people. As mentioned

above, “cannibalism” among the inland people of Barus was well

documented from early on, at least in the Arabic world. The chronicle



European Travelers and Local Informants in the Making of the Image of “Cannibalism” in North Sumatra 47

claims that the first king of Downstream Barus, Sultan Ibrahim, traveled

around its hinterland and established firm connections with the interior





He is said to have stayed with his one thousand subjects in the

forest product regions of Silindung and Pasaribu and in Bakkara, one of

the rice production centres on the shore of Lake Toba. The story goes

that he was welcomed among those peoples and asked to be their king.

The chronicle also says that Ibrahim appointed deputies in Silindung

and Pasaribu and a vice-king of Sing Maharaja (Si Singa Mangaraja) in

Bakkara. The reverence held by the people of these regions for Ibrahim

was based on their ancestor worship that one of their holy ancestors had

moved to an island off the west coast of Barus and was granted invulnerability

by the Batak high god, which was also associated with agricultural





They perceived Ibrahim to be a mediator between them

and the holy ancestor. In return, Ibrahim ordered them to bring tribute

regularly to Barus, lest their agricultural productivity should wane.

The chronicle also mentions that an agreement was made between

the chiefs of the hinterland nearest to Barus and the first king of

Downstream Barus concerning the intrusion of outsiders,




to the effect

that they would fight against all enemies from the sea, except the Malay

people, and from the inland, except the Batak people. To the hinterland

people, foreigners were very dangerous beings, because they often

brought in sickness while hunting them as slaves. The Barus case suggests

that the coastal ruler took responsibility for defending local hinterland

people against outsiders from the sea in return for a stable supply of hinterland

commodities and the defense of his rear.

In any case, Barus had become a very prosperous coastal entrepôt,

according to Tomé Pires’ early sixteenth century observation,




and during

the latter part of the seventeenth century, Dutch East Indian

Company sources mention that good quality camphor and benzoin were

being brought to Barus by hinterland people.




Ties between Barus and

its hinterland peoples were well maintained until the late nineteenth century,

when the Dutch placed them all under their colonial regime.

This is the social context within which stories of “anthropophagy”

became very important for both the coastal rulers, who needed constant

supplies of inland products and the hinterland people who needed to defend

themselves against intrusion by outsiders. As a matter of fact, rumours

of “cannibalism” tended to be more rampant in areas such as

north Sumatra and the Malay Peninsula, where geographically foreigners

could have made contact with inland people more easily, as compared to


48 The Memoirs of the Toyo Bunko, 63, 2005

south Sumatra and Java, where hinterland people generally lived far

away from the coast. The relations between coastal rulers and hinterland

inhabitants of north Sumatra were to some extent similar to the case of

the Andamans, Nicobar and Nias, where stories of “cannibals” were also

circulated by Arabian travelers and Marco Polo.






3. “Cannibalism” on the Rampage in Early Modern Sumatra

There is no doubt that Southeast Asia played a significant role in international

maritime trade during the early modern period, as evidenced

by merchants from both East and West making their appearance to trade

in pepper, nutmeg, cloves, and everything else of value the forests and

mineral deposits of the region could produce.




Sumatra was no exception

as one of the region’s major pepper and forest product and mineral

production centres. This onslaught by foreign merchants worked to forge

links between coastal entrepôts and their hinterlands more tightly than

ever before, and fanned the flames of cannibalism rumours among foreign

travelers to a frenzy. In the words of Nicolò de’ Conti, who visited

north Sumatra in 1435,





He afterwards went to a fine city of the island Taprobana, which island

is called by the natives Sciamuthera[Samudra]. He remained

one year in this city (which is six miles in circumference and a very

noble emporium of that island), and then sailed for the space of

twenty days with a favourable wind, leaving on his right hand an island

called Andamania, which means the island of gold, the circumference

of which is eight hundred miles. The inhabitants are cannibals.

No travelers touch here unless driven so to do by bad weather,

for when taken they are torn to pieces and devoured by these cruel

savages. He affirms that the island of Taprobana is six thousand

miles in circumference. The men are cruel and their customs brutal

…They are all idolators. In this island pepper, larger than the ordinary

pepper, also long pepper, camphor, and also gold are produced

in great abundance… In one part of the island called Batech[Batak],

the inhabitants eat human flesh, and are in a state of constant warfare

with their neighbours. They keep human heads as valuable

property, for when they have captured an enemy they cut off his

head, and having eaten the flesh, store up the skull and use it for

money. When they desire to purchase any article, they give one or

European Travelers and Local Informants in the Making of the Image of “Cannibalism” in North Sumatra 49

more heads in exchange for it according to its value, and he who has

the most heads in his house is considered to be the most wealthy.

Despite the precious trade items available on the Andaman Islands and

Batak, Conti, who resided in Pasai for a year, never stepped foot on either

out of fear that he would be torn to pieces and devoured by the natives.

Consequently, Pasai became a “fine” and “noble” emporium where

foreign visitors were able to trade safely in local products. According to

other European travelers, namely Tomé Pires and Mendez Pinto of the

sixteenth century, the location of “Batech” appears to have been located

in north Sumatra, slightly north of the present day Batak region.





describes how Pasai merchants traded with inland people as follows.





The kingdom of Singkel is bounded on one side by the kingdom of

Baros and the other by the kingdom of Melabah [Mancopa] or Daya,

and in the interior by strong, savage, bestial people who eat men.

This king is a heathen. This (kingdom) has benzoin, silk, some pepper,

a little gold… They say that throughout this kingdom they eat

men who are enemies. They trade here from Pase [Pasai] and in the

kingdoms of Baros, Tico, Priaman.

The kingdom of Mancopa or Daya (it has both names) is bounded

on one side by Singkel and on the other side it goes almost as far as

the islands hard by the land of Lambri. This king is a heathen. In the

interior it is bounded by [land inhabited by] strong brutal people of

the mountain range that goes above Pase and Pedir. This king’s

country is large. Inside the country he is a powerful warrior king.

The enemies they capture they eat. They trade there from Pase and


It is highly probable that Pasai merchants visited these west coast entrepôts

through inland trade routes, which were already well established

in earlier times, as McKinnon shows.




Pires also says that local merchants

frequently traveled via inland routes between Aru and Barus.




To foreign travelers, however, it was no doubt very difficult to attempt direct

access to the inland people located between west coast outlets and

the east. Other Portuguese travelers, Barros and Barboza, also mention

that “cannibals” dwelled inland.





After developing into a powerful coastal state from the 1530s until

the first half of the seventeenth century, Aceh brought both the north

50 The Memoirs of the Toyo Bunko, 63, 2005

Sumatran ports and the gold and pepper producing west coast outlets of

Tiku, Pariaman and Salida in central Sumatra under its control, and in

the process, caused a new wave of cannibal-phobia among foreign visitors

concerning also the hinterland of central Sumatra. French commodore,

A. de Beaulieu, who resided in Aceh for about seven months

during 1621 related,






It is very certain, there is a great deal of Gold to be found in this

Island …This Gold the Natives truck with the Inhabitants of

Manimcabo [Minangkabau] for Rice, Arms, and Cotton Cloth, and

with those of Pariaman for Pepper, Salt, Surat Cloth, and

Musulipatan Steel. Ticow, and other Kingdoms, they have but little

Commerce with. As for Strangers, they have no Dealings with them,

but murder and eat them where-ever they catch them, as well as their


Rumours of “cannibalism” in the hinterland by no means connote that

relations between coastal cities and their hinterlands were disrupted. To

the contrary, such relations in Sumatra were temporarily disrupted during

the eleventh century by expeditions of Cola from south India and in

the 1530s by the rise of Aceh. Foreigners at these times did actually venture

inland and made direct contact with hinterland people. South

Indian merchants of the eleventh and twelfth centuries entered into

north Sumatra and established commercial networks there, as

McKinnon states.




Also, in 1539 a Portuguese traveler, Mendez Pinto,

entered the “Bata kingdom” in the hinterland of Singkil and took part in

the war against Aceh. No description of “cannibalism” appears either in

the Tamil inscriptions or Pinto’s accounts of the inland people. To the

contrary, Pinto prefers to describe the cruelty of the king of Aceh toward

his enemies.




”Cannibal” stories resurfaced in the later writings of

Marco Polo and Odoric, rather than the Cola expeditions, and also in

the account of visitors like Beaulieu after Aceh conquered the port kingdoms

of north and central Sumatra and became a powerful coastal state;

that is, as soon as relations between coastal rulers and hinterland people

were reestablished.

Rumours of “cannibalism” in the hinterland of Aceh and the inner

region of Minangkabau were toned down during the latter part of the

seventeenth century and disappeared altogether in the eighteenth century,

partly because most of the hinterland inhabitants there had been con-


European Travelers and Local Informants in the Making of the Image of “Cannibalism” in North Sumatra 51

verted to Islam and partly because they were occasionally open to foreign

visitors. From the end of the seventeenth century, Aceh expanded

the cultivation of pepper and rice by sending colonists into the hinterlands

of both the east and west coasts of north Sumatra. Then after

Aceh’s influence on the west coast of central Sumatra declined,

Minangkabau chiefs began to make direct contact with the Dutch, resulting

in the Painan treaty with the Dutch East Indian Company in 1663.






On the other hand, foreigners continued to face difficulty in gaining access

to the inland region between Barus and Deli (Aru) until the nineteenth





due to the ability of the coastal rulers of Barus, Singkil,

Deli, Batubara and Asahan to control and intermediate trade between

foreign merchants and the hinterland peoples.



4. European Travelers and Local Informants

Rumours of “cannibalism” in the Batak region attracted more and

more attention from Europeans as they started to become more and

more interested in the inner regions of north Sumatra for both commercial

and colonial interests. From the latter part of the eighteenth century,

the British established trading posts in north Sumatra, at such places as

Natal, Tapanuli and Barus, selling cheaper cotton clothing manufactured

in India than what was being supplied by the Dutch. In order to expand

their business, the British started to peddle their wares further into the

inner regions from those trading posts.

In 1772, the British East Indian Company ordered two of its employees,

Miller and Holloway, to venture into the hinterland of Tapanuli in

order to establish direct commercial ties with the inhabitants there who

gathered cassia bark.




So the two took a journey up to Batangonan, one

of the main gathering spots of forest products, to get some information

about cassia. The villagers were, however, uncooperative because of

their firm connections with the royal family of Downstream Barus. While

at Lumut, one of the nearby Tapanuli villages, the two Englishman noticed

a human skull hanging in front of the village’s guest house. The village

chief explained to them that it was the skull of an enemy whose

body had been eaten two months previous. So much for the cassia bark

trade in the hinterland.

On the other hand, the Batak people under the influence of the

British made use of the cannibalism hype in order to gain the latter’s support

for the endless civil wars they were conducting. For example, in



52 The Memoirs of the Toyo Bunko, 63, 2005

1775 a Batak chief by the name of Niabin launched an attack on a neighbouring

village and killed its chief.




The victimized village happened to

be under the influence of the British, who had a post at Natal. The family

of the murdered chief complained to the head of the Natal post, a fellow

by the name of Nairne, that the body of the dead chief had been carried

off and eaten by Niabin. Nairne accepted their prayer for redress and set

out with a party of fifty or sixty soldiers for Niabin’s village to avenge the

dead chief. However, the village was tightly defended. A fight ensued

and Nairne himself and two of his soldiers were shot to death by the villagers.

The rest of the English troops were forced to retreat, only managing

to bring back Nairne’s body to the post, leaving the other two slain

bodies near the village. After arriving at the post, they reported to the

British authorities that the two were more than likely eaten by the villagers,

arguing that north Sumatrans outside the influence of the British

were cruel “cannibalists.”

Batak chiefs were always ready to become mediators between there

local “cannibals” and Europeans. After the establishment of their base at

Penang and Singapore, the British became more actively involved in foreign

trade around the Strait of Malacca. In 1823, the English East India

Company sent J. Anderson, a staff member at Penang to north Sumatra

in order to expand British trade networks. After visiting such main

coastal cities as Deli, Serdang, Batubara and Asahan, Anderson decided

to sail upstream from Asahan to the trading point of Muntopanei, whose

inhabitants were generally Bataks. He was welcomed by a powerful

Batak chief, who, according to Anderson, held authority over twenty villages

and frequently traveled down to Asahan to trade.




The chief

spoke to Anderson in fluent Malay with a friendly tone. In the conversation

that ensued, Anderson asked the chief about the custom of “cannibalism”

in the area. The chief then ordered a villager to bring the skull of

a victim whom he said had been eaten six days previous. Anderson was

strongly impressed by the chief’s explanation that the corpse had been

devoured in about five minutes. However, the chief graciously offered to

play an intermediary role in any further relations between the Company

and the Batak “cannibals.”

In 1824 Lieutenant-Governor of Bengkulen, Thomas Stamford

Raffles, sent two Baptist missionaries to Silindung in the hinterland of

Tapanuli, in order to make direct contact with the inland people. The

two missionaries were welcomed by a local Batak chief who occasionally

visited Tapanuli for trade and invited them to stay in his village. They en-



European Travelers and Local Informants in the Making of the Image of “Cannibalism” in North Sumatra 53

joyed his hospitality for ten days, during which they observed that

Silindung was a very fertile area and that the chief was of so friendly a nature

that he even entertained a visitor from an enemy village with hospitality

and allowed him to depart without violence.




They also had occasion

to ask the chief about whether or not he had eaten human flesh. The

chief replied that he and his villagers had executed and eaten the twenty

robbers who had occasionally attacked traders between Silindung and

Tapanuli the year before,




suggesting that his form of “cannibalism”

was being done in a righteous effort to defend the trade economy.

By the London Treaty of 1824 concluded between England and the

Netherlands, Sumatra was again made a Dutch territory, and the British

retired from the island. The Dutch reestablished its post at Padang on

the west coast of Sumatra and forthwith became involved in the Padri

war against the Minangkabau Muslim reformists who were trying to solidify

trade networks in both the Minangkabau and Batak regions.




Then in 1834 the Dutch sent two American missionaries from the Boston

Society to Silindung to establish a missionary station in the Batak region

for the purpose of cutting off Islamic influence coming in from

Minangkabau. However, the two were ironically suspected of being

Muslim reformists by the people of Silindung, who had been attacked

during the late 1820s and early 1830s by Padri Muslims, resulting in their

being killed by the villagers of Hutatinggi at the point of entry into

Silindung. The Dutch perceived that the two had been eaten by the local







After finally suppressing the Padri movement in 1837, the Dutch annexed

the Minankabau and south Batak regions into their territory and

forced them to cultivate coffee from the beginning of the 1840s.




In order

to extend their influence further over the neighbouring Batak region,

where the two missionaries had been killed, the Dutch ordered F.

Junghuhn, a physician, to explore the region.




Junghuhn stayed in the

Angkola and Toba Batak regions for a year and a half during 1840-41

with the assistance of the Batak chiefs who had decided to cooperate

with the Dutch. These chiefs were more or less aware that Junghuhn was

highly concerned about “cannibalism” among the Batak people. One of

them, Guru Sembilan of Silindung, guided Junghuhn to Hutatinggi and

told him that the village which had once been populous and prosperous

declined in both aspects after the villagers ate the missionaries.

Junghuhn states in his book that the village declined into a poor hamlet

as the result of God’s vengeance.




The chief’s statement can be inter-

54 The Memoirs of the Toyo Bunko, 63, 2005

preted as part of the cooperative attitude he decided to show toward the

Dutch authorities.

Junghuhn claims that he saw victims being eaten on three different

occasions during his stay in the Batak region. For example,






[When a hated enemy is captured] the day is set upon which he

should be eaten. Then messengers are sent to all allied chiefs inviting

them to be present at the feast… Hundreds of people stream to the

village. The victim is usually taken out of the village, but the feast is

also held in the village, if it is large enough to receive all spectators.

The captive is the bound to a stake in an upright position, a number

of fires are lit around him, musical instruments are played, and all

the customary ceremonies are observed… Usually the chief of the village

where the ceremony takes place, steps forward draws his knife

addresses the people… He explains that the victim is an utter

scoundrel, and in fact not a human being at all, but a devil (




) in

human form, and that the time has come for him to atone for his misdeeds.

During this address the audience waters at the mouth and

feels an irresistible impulse to get a piece of the criminal in their

stomachs, since this will reassure everyone that he will do them no

further harm. This is the rationale they themselves use to explain

their desire of cannibalism. They say that the pleasure which they

feel in satisfying their revenge in this manner and the consoling quiet

which it gives them cannot be compared to anything else. They all

draw their knives. The raja or the insulted person cuts off the first

piece, which varies according to his taste, being either a slice of the

forearm or a cheek, if it is fat enough. That is his priviledge. He holds

up the flesh and drinks with gusto some of the blood streaming from

it. Then he hastens to the fire to roast the meat a bit before devouring


Junghuhn also mentions that such open executions were carried out in

Silindung, Sigomplon and the upstream region of Bila. However, verifying

whether the above description was really based on his own eyewitness

experience is again of secondary importance to the purpose here.

What is more important is that his descriptions were mostly based on information

from the Batak chiefs, who would not have been reluctant to

talk about “cannibalism” because Junghuhn was eager to find out as

much as he could about the subject. They told him about a chief of



European Travelers and Local Informants in the Making of the Image of “Cannibalism” in North Sumatra 55

Bandernahor in Silindung who ate war prisoners in secret and another

chief of Sihijuk in Angkola was so addicted to human flesh that he ate his

slaves on a regular basis.




Junghuhn devoted one chapter of his book,

“Ueber den Cannibalismus der Battaër insbesondere” (With special reference

to Batak cannibalism) to such stories told to him by the Batak

chiefs, who were intent on inducing Junghuhn to create an image of their

region among Europeans as having a very unique custom.

After Junghuhn’s exploration, the Dutch authorities proclaimed in

1842 that the Batak region of Angkola, Sigompulan, Silindung,

Sipahutar, Pangaribuan, Sigotom and Silantom, where Junghuhn had

stayed, was to be annexed into their colonial territory.




Although the

Dutch control over these places commenced only from the 1870s, the

colonial government was convinced that local influential chiefs were generally

willing to submit to Dutch rule. The role of these chiefs as mediators

between the Dutch and local people was highly appreciated by the

colonial authorities.



5. The Final Stage of Talk about “Cannibalism”

Rumours about “cannibalism” did not flourish whenever relations

between the Batak chiefs and the Europeans were disrupted in some

manner. For example, as part of the Dutch colonial government’s attempt

to put the whole territory of Sumatra under its influence, from

1861, German Lutheran missionaries sent by the Rhenish Missionary

Society began activities in Angkola and then spread into the Toba Batak





Some Toba Batak people were willing to accept the German

missionaries and showed cooperative attitudes toward the Dutch authorities,

while others were afraid of the transformation of power balances occurring

among the people and resorted to protesting against Europeans

under the banner of their holy king, Si Singa Mangaraja.




Under such

disruptive circumstances, the most urgent theme for the Batak people became

understanding the ultimate source of power that was causing

changes in their society and how to gain access to it. “Cannibalism” did

not become a major concern among the German missionaries, Dutch

colonial officials or the Toba Batak people during that time.

Talk of “cannibalism” did flourish when foreigners entered regions

where relations with the local people were well maintained. By the end

of the nineteenth century, not only Mandailing, where the Dutch had introduced

compulsory coffee cultivation since the 1840s, but also most of



56 The Memoirs of the Toyo Bunko, 63, 2005

the regions of Angkola, Toba, Simalungun and Karo had come under

Dutch influence, while another Batak region, Pakpak, was able to maintain

its independence from European influence. European travelers who

visited the Pakpak region between the 1880s and the turn of the century

were told by their informants that they themselves had eaten large numbers

of human beings.

In 1887, a German traveler, J. F. von Brenner, explored Pakpak and

the northern part of the Toba region, both of which were still independent

from Dutch control. In order to travel through the regions, von

Brenner received financial and personnel support from the European

plantation companies which were busy developing tobacco estates in

Deli and Karo, as well as from the Dutch colonial authorities and the

Rhenish Missionary Society.




His travelogue was later published in

book form as



Besuch bei den Kannibalen Sumatras

(A visit among the

Sumatran cannibals). His descriptions about “cannibalism” among the

Pakpak people were again based on information given by a local, apparently

cooperative chief in Pengambatan near Karo. The chief explained

to von Brenner that he and his villagers had eaten eleven Chinese coolies

who had escaped from the plantations.




A similar case can be found in the report of a Dutch commandant, J.

C. J. Kempees, who joined the expedition from Aceh through Gayo and

Alas to the Batak region led by O. van Daalen in 1904 against Aceh warriors.

Pakpak bordered on the Alas region, where Aceh guerillas had

been conducting operations against the Dutch since 1873. When

Kempees and his comrades marched into Pakpak after pacifying the

Gayo and Alas regions, they were greeted by a local chief in Kutaraja,

who informed the Dutch commandant that he and his villagers had previously

attacked and eaten thirteen Aceh people who had been hiding

near their village.






After van Daalen’s expedition, the Pakpak people themselves began

to fear that they would before long be also put under Dutch rule, and

they were also aware that the Europeans generally looked upon them as

“cannibals.” When another German traveler, W. Volz explored the

Pakpak region in 1905 at the request of the Dutch authorities, his informant

from Kutausan near Kutaraja, who was around the age of fifty, told

him that he had eaten the flesh of more than fifty men.




Under a situation

in which foreign travelers generally regarded the Pakpak people as

“cannibals,” Volz’s informant had claimed to be himself “a voracious

cannibal” in order to live up to his role as bona fide source of informa-



European Travelers and Local Informants in the Making of the Image of “Cannibalism” in North Sumatra 57

tion for the German traveler. Based on his informant’s testimony, Volz assumed

that the informant had eaten fifty men during his twenty five-year

adult life and concluded that every Pakpak adult probably ate an average

of two men per year. While Volz was still in Pakpak, another rumour

of “cannibalism” reached him and the Dutch officials, according to

which during a civil war among the villages in Kepas, located in the central

part of Pakpak, eight women had been eaten,




an extraordinary

event among the Batak people, since the usual custom was to execute

male adults in such a way. Whether the rumour was true or not is not as

important as the attempt by Pakpak informants to persuade Volz that

cannibalist customs among the Pakpak people were far beyond

European understanding.

It was in 1908 that all of the Batak regions, including Pakpak, were

placed under Dutch rule,




and those Toba Batak and Pakpak Batak

chiefs who showed cooperative attitudes towards the Dutch were appointed

colonial chiefs, who were expected by the colonial authorities to

act as mediators between the local people and the colonial government.

It was in this way that they succeeded in maintaining their positions of

leadership under colonial rule, but only while they themselves were

alive, for the post was not always passed on to their descendants.

Furthermore, from about 1915 on, the colonial government began appointing

to the posts of district and assistant district chief (



demang, assistent




) Batak officials who had been educated at the Training School for

Native Chiefs or had been working directly under Dutch colonial officials,

giving them positions above the local Batak chiefs.




Also, assistant

district chiefs were allowed to come into direct contact with common villagers

in the course of their duties. The Batak chiefs who had played an

intermediary role between the local people and the Dutch began to be

removed from the important political scenes and were transformed into

mere messengers of the colonial government. Finally, after the Dutch put

the Batak region under their control, the colonial government prohibited

“cannibalism,” which consequently passed into the realm of Batak historical





From the early centuries of the Christian era to the beginning of the

twentieth century, stories of “cannibalism” being practiced in inland

north Sumatra were frequently told and retold among foreign travelers.

58 The Memoirs of the Toyo Bunko, 63, 2005

Local informants played a significant role in the circulation of such stories

and in creating the image of the typical inland “cannibal.” The north

Sumatran case suggests that European travelers were most of the time

told of the “savage” and “cruel” aspects of local people by those informants

rather than discovering them themselves.

The development of these “cannibal” rumours does not necessarily

imply any difficulty for foreign merchants to trade in north Sumatran

products; rather, the stories tell us that relationships between coastal entrepôts

and their hinterlands had been well established and stable, and

that foreign visitors were able to safely trade in all local products whenever

they chose to stop at one of the entrepôts. It is also interesting that the

same type of rumours once flourished in other areas, like Latin America,

Africa and Japan (in the later part of the thirteenth century, according to

Marco Polo




in a historical context similar to Sumatra. These other areas

were also well-known for precious mineral deposits, and there were

also locations where it was generally difficult for foreigners to directly

trade with inland producers without some local intermediary. In addition,

people were exposed to the danger of being commandeered into

the slave trade, especially in Latin America and Africa.





The prosperity of coastal entrepôts and the spread of rumours about

“cannibalism” in their hinterlands can be considered opposite sides of

the same coin. It is very probable that a classic type of “cannibal” story

about Sumatra was formed during the early centuries, at the time when

basic relations between coastal outlets and the hinterlands were established.

Although there is one argument suggesting that the north

Sumatran coast was probably isolated during the




vijaya era because of

its “cannibal” reputation, the ninth and tenth century Arabic materials

mentioned above and also the Chinese



I-tsing of the seventh century



tell us that foreigners often visited the north coastal entrepôts in early

times. Also, Pasai and Aceh became prosperous, cosmopolitan port cities

during the early modern era, despite rampant talk of inland “cannibalism”

among their many foreigner visitors. The existence of “cannibalism”

rumours during those times give us a very interesting and helpful perspective

on the maritime history of Southeast Asia, especially concerning

trade relationships developed among foreign visitors, coastal rulers and

producers in the hinterland.

However, after the Dutch placed these coastal cities under their authority,

the major intermediary role between foreigners and local people

shifted to inland chiefs, who became informants for the European travel-

European Travelers and Local Informants in the Making of the Image of “Cannibalism” in North Sumatra 59

ers regarding local customs, including plenty of details about “cannibalism”

among the Batak people. These rumours about north Sumatra vanished

after the Dutch established colonial rule over the inland regions at

the beginning of the twentieth century. The basic reasons for the disappearance

was not only a colonial ban on the local custom of executing

wounded prisoners and adulterers, but also the loss of the intermediary

(informant) status held by Batak local chiefs and their replacement by

colonial district and sub-district chiefs who were allowed make direct

contact with local people in the performance of their duties. As local

chiefs lost their importance as mediators, their stories about “cannibalism”

lost their meaning.

Although the research on anthropophagy to date has inclined to pay

specific attention to the bias of Westerners towards the exotic nature of

non-Western cultures and customs, it is a fact that, at least on Sumatra,

the descriptions of those Westerners regarding these cultures and customs

were more times than not influenced by their local informants

rather than direct observation. This article has been an attempt to reexamine

the process of how the image of one particular custom, “cannibalism,”

was created in north Sumatra and the important role played by local

informants in creating it.





1) W. Arens, The Man-Eating Myth: Anthropology and Anthropophagy

, (New York,







2) Such a view that maintains there is a fundamental distinction between East

and West has been called “Orientalism” [E. W. Said,




, (New

York,1978), and M. Vickery,



Bali: A Paradise Created

, (Hong Kong, 1990), pp.







3) A couple of relevant works regarding this point are J. van der Putten,

“Taalvorsers en hun informanten in Indië in de 19e eeuw: Von de Wall als

politiek agent in Riau?”,



Bijdragen tot de Taal-, Land-en Volkenkunde

, vol. 151,

no. 1, (1995), pp. 44-75, and



􀟂􀺤􀕭􀢜􀊰􀱦􀳆􀎞􀎴􀎞􀍷 􀢢􀩈􀖄􀉿􀮍􀒬





2004􀳥􀉼[M. Hirosue,

The Southeast Asian Port-

City: Its Intermediary Role in the Establishment of the Local and World Order




(Tokyo, 2004)].






4) See, for example, G. R. Tibbetts,

A Study of the Arabic Texts Containing

Materials on Southeast Asia



, (Leiden and London, 1979), pp. 25–28, F. Hirth

and W. W. Rockhill trans.,



Chau Ju-Kua: His Work on the Chinese and Arab Trade

in the twelfth and thirteenth Centuries, entitled Chu-fan-chi



, (St. Petersburg, 1911),

p. 150, H. Yule ed. and trans.,



The Book of Ser Marco Polo: The Venetian

Concerning the Kingdoms and Marvels of the East



, vol. 2, (London, 1903), p. 284

60 The Memoirs of the Toyo Bunko, 63, 2005

and pp. 292–294, and Stanley of Alderley ed.,




The First Voyage round the

World, by Magellan: Translated from the Accounts of Pigafetta, and Other

Contemporary Writers



, (London, 1874), pp. 148–150.





5) Hsin-T’angshu, 222B (􀊰􀧽 􀥻􀊱 􀳋􀶦􀳋􀥇􀳋􀔼






6) Tibbetts, A Study of the Arabic Texts

, pp. 25–28.





7) J. Anderson, Mission to the East Coast of Sumatra in 1823

, reprint, (Kuala

Lumpur, Singapore, London and New York, 1971), pp. 147–148.






8)O. W. Wolters, Early Indonesian Commerce: A Study of the Origins of srEvijaya


(Ithaca, 1967), pp. 194–196.






9) G. E. Gerni, Researches on Ptolemy’s Geography of Eastern Asia

, (London, 1909),

pp. 427–446, and Wolters,



Early Indonesian Commerce

, p. 181.

10) P. Pelliot, “Le Fou-nan”,



Bulletin de l’École Française d’Extrême-Orient

, vol. 3,

(1903), p.264, and Wolters,



Early Indonesian Commerce

, pp. 259–260.

11) For example, see R. Heine-Geldern, “Le pays de P’i-k’ien, le Roi au Grand

Cou et le Singa Mangaradja”,



Bulletin de l’École Française d’Extrême-Orient

, vol.

49, (1959), pp. 24–25.

12) Tibbetts,



Arabic Texts

, p. 25.





., p. 28.





., p. 45.

15) See also J. Drakard, “An Indian Ocean Port: Sources for the Earlier History

of Barus”,




, vol. 37, (1989), pp. 56–65.

16) Tibbetts,



Arabic Texts

, p. 52, 56 and 58. Although the twelfth century

Chinese record,



Liangwai Taita 􀾮􀖎􀭅􀱴 and Chu-Fanchi 􀢤

of the thirteenth

century make no explicit reference to the custom of eating human

flesh in Sumatra, the latter mentions that people in Kampar (east coast) and

Lambri were warlike and boasted to one another about how many men

they had killed (Hirth and Rockhill,



Chau Ju-kua

, pp. 71–72).

17) W. Volz,



Nord-Sumatra, vol. 2, (Berlin, 1909), p. 320, and F. Junghuhn,


Battaländer auf Sumatra



, vol. 2, (Berlin, 1847), pp. 156-157, and E. M. Loeb,

Sumatra: Its History and People







, reprint, (Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta, 1972),

pp. 34-36.

18) Yule,



The Book of Ser Marco Polo

, vol. 2, p. 292.





., p. 284.





., pp. 293–294.

21) Anderson,



Mission to the East Coast of Sumatra

, pp. 34–35.

22) H. Cordier ed.,



Les voyages en Asie au quatorzième siècle du bienheureux Frère

Odoric de Pordenone



, (Paris, 1891), p. 136.

23) A. Cortesão ed. and trans.,



The Suma Oriental of Tomé Pires

, vol. 1, (London,

1944), p. 163, and M. L. Dames ed. and trans.,



The Book of Duarte Barbosa


vol. 2, (London, 1921), p. 188.

24) A. H. Hill ed., “Hikayat Raja-Raja Pasai”,



Journal of the Malayan Branch of the

Royal Asiatic Society



, vol. 33, part 2, (June, 1960), pp. 46–59.

25) Later the centre of the kingdom moved to Pasai, which was slightly upstream

Samudra. After the island itself began to be called Sumatra after

“Samudra,” the kingdom was then generally called Pasai.


European Travelers and Local Informants in the Making of the Image of “Cannibalism” in North Sumatra 61

26) G. W. Drewes, “New Light on the Coming of Islam to Indonesia?”,





tot de Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde



, vol. 124, (1968), pp. 444–457, and A. H.

Johns, “Islamization in Southeast Asia: Reflections and Reconsiderations

with Special Reference to the Role of Sufism”,



􀊰􀱦􀳆􀎞􀎴􀎞 􀚀􀊱(


Asian Studies



), vol. 31, no. 1, (June, 1993), pp. 48–49.

27) Cortesão,



The Suma Oriental

, vol. 2, p. 240.

28) Hill, “Hikayat Raja-Raja Pasai”, p. 59.

29) Pires mentions that the wishes of the hinterland people who brought pepper

and forest products to Pasai would always prevail whenever disputes

arose between them and the port city. (Cortesão,



The Suma Oriental

, vol. 1,

p. 143). Also see K. R. Hall, “The Coming of Islam to the Archipelago: A

Reassessment”, in



Economic Exchange and Social Interaction in Southeast Asia:

Perspectives from Prehistory, History, and Ethnography



, ed. by K. L. Hutterer,

(Ann Arbor, 1977), pp. 223–224.

30) J. Drakard ed.,



Sejarah Raja-Raja Barus

, (Jakarta and Bandung, 1988), pp.

194–202. This chronicle,



Sejarah Tuanku Batubadan

, was written during

1834–1872 and contains oral traditions among the royal family of

Downstream Barus.

31) W. K. H. Ypes,



Bijdrage tot de kennis van de stamverwantschap, de inheemsche rechtsgemeenschappen

en het grondenrecht der Toba- en Dairibataks



, (Leiden, 1932), pp.

423–424, and Heine-Geldern, “Le pay de P’i-k’ien”, pp. 385–393.

32) Cortesão,



The Suma Oriental

, vol. 1, pp. 161–162.

33) VOC 1272, “Raport vanden ondercoopman Francois Backer aengaendesijn

verrichiten voor Baros”, (30 Aug. 1669), p. 1067, and J. Drakard,



A Malay

Frontier: Unity and Duality in a Sumatran Kingdom



, (Ithaca, 1990), pp. 34–35.

34) Drakard,




, p. 205.

35) Tibbetts,



Arabic Texts, p. 25, 45, 50, 56 and 58. Yule, The Book

, vol. 2, p. 309.

Furthermore, stories of island “cannibals” were often provided by rival islanders.

For example, Pigafetta refers to “cannibal” stories in the early modern

Molucca islands under the influence of Ternate told by an informant

from Tidore (Stanley of Alderley ed.,



The First Voyage round the World, by




, pp. 148–150) and see also Arens, The Man-Eating Myth

, pp. 45–48.

36) A. Reid,



Southeast Asia in the Age of Commerce 1450–1680

, vol. 2, (New Haven

and London, 1993), pp. 1–131.

37) Nicolò de’ Conti, “The Travels of Nicolò Conti, in the East” in



India in the

Fifteenth Century



, ed., by R. H. Major, (London, 1857), pp. 8–9.

38) Cortesão,



The Suma Oriental

, vol. 1, pp. 145-146, and A. Vambery ed. and H.

Cogan trans.,



The Voyages and Adventures of Fernand Mendez Pinto, the Portuguese


(London, 1891), pp. 36–43.

39) Cortesão,



The Suma Oriental

, vol. 1, p. 163.

40) E. E. McKinnon, “Kota Cina”, (Unpublished Ph.D. thesis submitted to

Cornell University, 1984), pp. 336–342.

41) Cortesão,



The Suma Oriental

, vol. 1, p. 148.

42) M. L. Dames,



The Book of Duarte Barbosa, vol. 2, p. 188, and W. Marsden,


History of Sumatra



, reprint, (Kuala Lumpur, New York, London and

62 The Memoirs of the Toyo Bunko, 63, 2005

Melbourne, 1966), pp. 390–391.

43) “The Expedition of Commodore Beaulieu to the East-Indies”, in

Navigantium atque Itinerantium Bibliotheca: A Complete Collection of Voyages and








, ed. by J. Harris, (London, 1744), vol. 1, p. 742.

44) E. E. McKinnon, “New Light on the Indianization of the Karo Batak”, in


Cultures and Societies of North Sumatra







, ed. by R. Carle, (Berlin and Hamburg,

1987), pp. 81–110.

45) A. Vambery,



Adventures of Mendez Pinto

, p. 44.

46) J. Kathirithamby-Wells, “Achehnese Control over West Sumatra up to the

Treaty of Painan, 1663”,



Journal of Southeast Asian History

, vol. 10, no. 3,

(1969), pp. 453–479.

47) Marsden,



The History of Sumatra, pp. 388–395, and A. S. Bickmore,

Travels in

the East Indian Archipelago



, (London, 1868), pp. 424–425.

48) Marsden,



The History of Sumatra

, pp. 369–373.





., p. 394.

50) Anderson,



Mission to the East Coast of Sumatra

, pp. 143–154.

51) “Verslag van eene reis in het land der Bataks, in het binnenland van

Sumatra, ondernomen in het jaar 1824, door de Heeren Burton en Ward,

zendelingen der Baptisten”,



Bijdragen tot de Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde

, vol. 5,

(1856), pp. 275–305.





., pp. 299–300.

53) C. Dobbin,



Islamic Revivalism in a Changing Peasant Economy: Central Sumatra









(Copenhagen, 1983), pp. 117–192.

54) S. Coolsma,



De Zendingseeuw voor Nederlandsch Oost-Indië

, (Utrecht, 1901), pp.


55) Dobbin,



Islamic Revivalism, pp. 229–230, and M. Joustra, Batakspiegel


(Leiden, 1910), p. 37.

56) C. M. Pleyte, “De verkenning der Bataklanden”,



Tijdschrift der Koninklijk

Nederlandsch Aardrijkskundig Genootschap



, vol. 12, (1895), p. 80.

57) Junghuhn,



Die Battaländer

, vol. 2, p. 113.




Ibid., pp. 158–159, and Loeb, Sumatra

, p. 35.





., pp. 161–162.

60) Joustra,




, p.31.

61) Coolsma,



De Zendingseeuw

, pp. 310–384.

62) W. B. Sidjabat,



Ahu Si Singamangaraja: Arti Historis, Politis, Ekonomis dan

Religius Si Singamangaraja XII



, (Jakarta, 1982), pp. 151–318, and M. Hirosue,

“The Batak Millenarian Response to the Colonial Order”,



Journal of

Southeast Asian Studies



, vol. 25, no. 2, pp. 331–344.

63) J. F. von Brenner,



Besuch bei den Kannibalen Sumatras: Erste Durchquerung der unabhängigen




, (Würzburg, 1894), pp. i–iv.





., p. 209.

65) J. C. Kempees,



De tocht van Overste van Daalen door GayW-, Alas- en Bataklanden


(Amsterdam, n. d.), p. 199.

66) Volz,




, vol. 1, pp. 323–325.





., p. 323.


European Travelers and Local Informants in the Making of the Image of “Cannibalism” in North Sumatra 63

68) Joustra,




, p. 33.

69) B. J. Haga, “Influence of the Western Administration on the Native

Community in the Outer Provinces”, in



The Effect of Western Influence on

Native Civilisations in the Malay Archipelago



, ed. by B. Schrieke, (Batavia,

1929), pp. 178–179, and M. Joustra,



Kroniek 1913–1917

, (Leiden, 1918), p.


70) Yule,



Travels of Marco Polo

, vol. 2, p. 264.

71) Arens suggests very interestingly cases that Indios and Africans believed

that Europeans were “cannibals,” while European visitors generally wrote

that Indios and Africans were “cannibals.” Arens,



The Man-Eating Myth

, p.

20 and 59.

72) E. Chavannes trans.,



Voyages des pèlerins Bouddhistes: Les Religieux éminents qui

allèrent chercher la loi dans les pays d’Occident: Mémoire composé à l’époque de la

grande dynastie T’ang par I-tsing



, (Paris, 1894), pp. 36–37, and J. Takakusu,


Record of the Buddhist Religion as Practised in India and the Malay Archipelago

(A.D. 671–695)by I-tsing



, (Oxford, 1896), p. xi.

64 The Memoirs of the Toyo Bunko, 63, 2005



Bireuen Pasai(Samudra)

Pasangan River





























Silindung Bila River








Indian Ocean

Strait of Malacca




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