An inside look of Batak traditional village …

Indonesia - North Sumatra - Medan - Stone Chair of King Siallagan - Welcome signage

Welcome signage to Stone Chair of King Siallagan in Samosir Island (North Sumatra, Indonesia)

Batak traditional village in Ambarita village in Samosir island (North Sumatra, Indonesia) has the same setting with the one in Sigale-gale show. The Ambarita village is a tourism village that is a replica of the real traditional village in the past. The guide said that in each villages, they only have one entrance and one exit. To protect the village from the bad guy, they always put a spell at the entrance of the  village so the bad guy couldn’t enter the village. They also planted bamboo around the village as the barrier from the wild animals. So if you can’t enter the village, that means you are a … Haha! Just kidding 🙂

Indonesia - North Sumatra - Medan - Stone Chair of King Siallagan - Batak Traditional House (1)

The Batak traditional houses

The people also put meanings on details of their houses. For example the roof. The front part of the roof is always higher than the back part. This means that the parents want their children to be more successful than they are. Some of the houses also have ornaments that shaped like a gecko and women’s breasts. The gecko represents the ability of Batak people that can live anywhere and in any situations. They could live in a big and expensive houses, but they could also live in a very simple houses. Meanwhile, the women’s breast telling us that the children needs to always remember their parents if they decided leaving their village to seek what they want in other places. If you look at the carvings in each houses, the dominant colours would be black, red, and white. The black represents the ‘underworld’, red is the world we live now, while the white is the heaven.

One house apparently is a home to more then one family (up to four families). They share the kitchen area which is located at the centre of the house.

Indonesia - North Sumatra - Medan - Stone Chair of King Siallagan - Batak Traditional House - Gecko ornament

Gecko ornament on Batak traditional house

Indonesia - North Sumatra - Medan - Stone Chair of King Siallagan - Batak Traditional House - Women breast ornaments

Women breast ornaments on Batak traditional house

Indonesia - North Sumatra - Medan - Stone Chair of King Siallagan - Batak Traditional House - Kitchen area

The kitchen area at the centre of Batak traditional house

A traditional trial at the stone chair

Indonesia - North Sumatra - Medan - Stone Chair of King Siallagan - Batak Traditional Village - Stone chair area - The jail

The jail for the bad guy

In the past, there’s an area in the village that has stone chairs on it.

The stone chair in the village is usually the place for discussion or trial for someone that is found guilty. Each mistakes has different punishment. Thieves would be fined three times of the value that he stole, while the heaviest punishment goes to the rapist and murderer, which was beheaded.

Before they punished the bad guy, they put him in a jail beside the stone chair area. The jail  were made from wood, and it looks like a cage of an animal.

Usually the bad guy equipped himself with a protection spell, and it’s the job of the shaman village to find out which day is his weakest point or when his protection spell is not working. The shaman had to pray to the spirit beside a tree that located beside the stone chair area (or at the centre of the village) and ask for the spirit’s guidance. The King and the witnesses will also sits on the stone chairs.

Indonesia - North Sumatra - Medan - Stone Chair of King Siallagan - Batak Traditional Village - Stone chair area (1)

The stone chair

Indonesia - North Sumatra - Medan - Stone Chair of King Siallagan - Batak Traditional Village - Stone chair area - The tree where the shaman asks guidance from the spirit

The tree where the shaman asked the spirit for guidance

Indonesia - North Sumatra - Medan - Stone Chair of King Siallagan - Batak Traditional Village - Stone chair area (2)

The stone chair area with the Tree beside it

The punishment process

After the shaman got the weakest day of the bad guy; they brought him to the punishment area. There are several stones that look like tables.

The punishment didn’t start immediately, but they treated this person with delicious food! Well, if you think the people are so generous by giving delicious food, then you’re wrong. They have already put potions to weaken the protection spell inside the food. Also, this guy needed to eat with his hand tied on his back. So no easy way for the bad guy to enjoy his last meal!

After he finished his last meal, then the punishment process began.

Indonesia - North Sumatra - Medan - Stone Chair of King Siallagan - Batak Traditional Village - Punishment area

The punishment area – the stone at the 10 o’clock is where they put the bad guy and cast the spell | the stone at the 12 o’clock is where they beheaded the bad guy

Indonesia - North Sumatra - Medan - Stone Chair of King Siallagan - Batak Traditional Village - Judgment area - Sacred stick, Batak calendar, Batak traditional book, sword and knife

From left to right: the tall-sacred-stick, Batak traditional calendar, the knife, the spell book, and the sword

(The process is quite sadistic, so if you don’t like to read sadistic story – although only small part of the story, please don’t read the next part)

They put the bad guy on one of the stones. The shaman then would cast a spell from his spell book to destroy the protection spell completely. The shaman also hit the bad guy with a sacred-tall-stick from head to toe! To make sure that the protection spell has gone; the shaman used a small knife to slash the body of the person here and there, and then pour the sour liquid (perhaps lime?) on top of the wound (ouch!). If the shaman succeeded in breaking the protection spell, this bad guy would scream during the procession.

The beheading process was done by an executioner, and it’s also a very tough job for the executioner. He needed to behead the bad guy in one try, if not, he would be in trouble either.

Beheading was not the end of the process.

To end the punishment process, the shaman took the inner organs of the bad guy (the liver and the heart), and mix them with the sour liquid (perhaps lime?). The king then ate them. Eating a man with a ‘power’ (remember that the bad guy originally has a protection spell) could transfer the power to the King, and with this, the King became stronger.

They then dumped the body of the bad guy far away so it couldn’t be found by the people.

The punishment process is a quite sadistic procession. Even myself and my friends said ‘eww, aahhh, uuhhh’ when hearing the process, but it’s what they did in the past. Now it becomes an interesting knowledge for us.

Indonesia - North Sumatra - Medan - Stone Chair of King Siallagan - Batak Traditional Village - Stone chair area - Me, Lidya, Dewi, Yudhi, Kania (resize)

Me, Lidya, Dewi, Yudhi, and Kania at the Stone Chair – Samosir Island – North Sumatra, Indonesia

6 Comments

  1. Kania December 29, 2013
    • timothywp December 29, 2013
  2. Agness December 31, 2013
    • timothywp December 31, 2013
  3. Khai January 1, 2014
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