Ulos Ragi Huting, a surprise gift from Torang Sitorus

Ulos Ragi Huting, a surprise gift from Torang Sitorus

I am truly grateful for the fast development of Internet technology, particularly the arrival of Facebook which has allowed me to connect with Ulos Batak lovers all around the world.  I love Ulos dearly and meeting other Ulos enthusiasts and share their passion is truly magical, and Facebook has created this magic for me in the past 4 years. This month I am in Tarutung (North Tapanuli) and around on a mission to develop a project connection between Connect Indonesia, The Charity with local nurseries to develop a small agricultural project to encourage local homeowners to make use of their dormant garden around their homes, encouraging them to grow vegetables and fruits to become self-sufficient family.

On this visit, I have also arranged to meet several Ulos enthusiasts in North Sumatra, Torang Sitorus is one of them. I got acquainted with Torang Sitorus on Facebook, as we share the same tribal name “Sitorus”, we got closed very quickly.  After several years of sharing stories in cyberspace, as the Bataks call it “Martarombo”, Torang said, that one of my uncles (my father’s youngest brother) who was a General in the Army, was a close friend of Torang’s father and that seemed to have added a stronger connection between us. His late father was a government official in the North Sumatra government, holding a rather important position.

Torang is a very ambitious textile enthusiast. He mentioned to me that he has been collecting Ulos for several years now. His mother who lives in Tarutung is also an Ulos enthusiast and has a vast number of high-quality Ulos in her collections. Torang told me that he learnt so much about Ulos from his mum and is able to understand this textile more closely and comprehensively through access to his mother’s collection. Torang was planning to write a book about Ulos Batak recently, but I have not seen the copy of this book to date and hope to receive a copy one day soon. Regretfully, Torang was not able to meet me in Taturutung on the day of my visit to his studio and restaurant “Villa Gorga”. He has very kindly asked his mother to meet me on his behalf.

Inang uda (Torang’s mum) is a wonderful woman, full of stories and very lifely. She told me that Torang lives permanently in Medan, the capital of North Sumatra and as Torang is her last child (Siampudan is the name and term given to the youngest child in a Batak family, female or male) and she misses him a lot.  On the day of our visit, Torang’s mum cooked for us some lovely fried vermicelli (mie goreng) and some lovely banana fritters.  The visit was truly memorable and enjoyable.

The meeting was closed with the handing over of a surprise gift from Torang to me, I couldn’t believe my luck. He has given me a beautiful Ulos with very vibrant colours, and with striking quality. Usually, when I see a brightly coloured Ulos, they often not too high in quality, but not so with this one. I fell in love with this new ulos of mine. Its name is “Ragi Huting”, a name that I had never heard before. I do know Ulos “Ragi Hotang” partly because Ragi Hotang is a fairly common Ulos, circulated a lot during Batak ceremonial events. 

I should treasure this Ragi Huting and will share with this new ulos experience with all my textile enthusiasts friends. Thank Torang, for making this visit possible and memorable. Thank you Inang Uda for being such an amazing host.