I am a Batak (Bataks are an Indonesian tribe from around Lake Toba of North Sumatra), so I do have a lot of Ulos (Ulos is the name given to the Batak’s traditional textiles) given to me by families and relatives over the years. I have ulos given to me when I was a baby, and when I was a very young girl, and when my mother passed away, her Ulos (the Batak traditional textiles) were spread out between all of her daughters, so some passed to me. My sisters are not as enthusiastic as me about learning or keeping traditional textiles, so I am feeling so lucky to inherit most of my grandma/mum’s ulos now.
I have 5 Ulos left to me which are from my grandma’s collection, and this one is my favourite. This one called “Ragi Harangan”. Ragi means motif (or patterns), and harangan, is forest or jungle. I am not sure why they call it this, I am hoping to find out more about it. I was told in some places in Lake Toba, they also call it Sirara. I love the old Batak Ulos. They were made from really high-quality cotton and dyed using natural dyes. I am not sure what they used to create the red, morinda-like colour in North Sumatra, and I am currently working with weavers there to find out more.
Once time permits, and we could all attend gatherings again, I would love to have open house events, to share my textiles with you.
For now, let’s all stay safe and stay well in our own homes. Enjoy the summer.