Monday, January 11, 2010

Mandailing Batak(Kanak) people

Mandailing Batak (or Kanak) are from North Sumatra, Indonesia.

The Mandailing is a traditional cultural group in Southeast Asia. They are found mainly in the northern section of the island of Sumatra in Indonesia. They came under the influence of the Kaum Padri who ruled the Minangkabau of Tanah Datar. As a result, the Mandailing were influenced by Muslim culture and converted to Islam. Previous to their conversion, they practised Hinduism and Parmalim (Batak native religion). There are also a group of Mandailing in Malaysia, especially in the states of Selangor and Perak. They are closely related to the Angkola, who are mixed between Muslim and Christian adherents.

The etymology of 'Mandailing' is said to be a coupounding of the words mande, meaning 'mother', and hilang, meaning 'lost'. Thus, the name is said to mean "lost mother". Some research has suggested that the Mandailing are the descendants of the Batak. Some of Mandailing people refused to be considered as a part of Batak people. Even in 1930 and 2000 national census, the Indonesian government considered the Mandailings as a part of the Batak people.

Batak is a collective term used to identify a number of ethnic groups found in the highlands of North Sumatra, Indonesia. Their heartland lies to the west of Medan centred on Lake Toba. In fact the "Batak" include several groups with distinct, albeit related, languages and customs (adat). While the term is used to include the Toba, Karo, Pakpak-Dairi, Simalungun, Angkola and Mandailing. Occasionally it is also used to include the Alas-Kluet people of Central/Southern Aceh, but usually only as relates to language groups.

Batak origin
Origin myths of the Toba Batak are of Si Raja Batak, the first human, who was born on a holy mountain near Lake Toba. He had two sons, Guru Tateabulan and Raja Isumbaon, who were the fathers of the ancestors of the major Toba patrilineal clans. Other related myths are of the origin of farming and weaving, and clans are associated with certain valleys and uplands.
The Batak encountered Indian religions at an early period through trading colonies near Barus and a temple community near Portibi. There was also influence coming from the indianised ancient kingdoms of south Sumatra.

Batak Religion
Batak religion practised before the early nineteenth century was related to the indigenous religions of the Dayaks in Kalimantan, highland societies in Sulawesi, and the people of eastern Indonesia.

Contact with Islam and Christianity varied considerably in the Batak societies. In the 1820's Islam came to the southern Angkola and Mandailing homelands, and in the 1850's and 1860's Christianity arrived in the Angkola and Toba region with Dutch missionaries and the German Rheinische Mission Gesellschaft. The first German missionary, Nommensen, arrived in 1861 with only a Bible and a violin. Nommensen caused the Dutch to stop Batak communal sacrificial rituals and music, which was a major blow to the traditional religion. These early conversions included large numbers of slave descendents. Karo has many animists, with conversions only in the 1930's. Dutch colonial policy favoured Christian villages. Such a background of conversion has left southern Batak Christianity filled with disputes by different factions. In 1965 the national government identified Indonesian patriotism with belief in a monotheistic religion. This has accelerated the number of converts to Islam and Christianity.

Pre-monotheistic Batak religion cannot be reconstructed in detail from available evidence since Islam and Christianity have thoroughly reshaped village ritual and folk memories.
At the time of the Suharto regime a number of class and ethnic based new denominations split from the parent church of the German-sponsored missionary church, the HKBP (Huria Kristen Batak Protestan). In areas with both Muslims and Christians, church members align with Muslims along class lines.

An important area of present and future dynamism is the meeting ground of adat, village custom, and monotheism. In Muslim Mandailing and Christian Toba, adat is seen as conflicting with monotheism, while in Angkola the common heritage of the adat is emphasised over monotheistic differences and the village ritual in adat leads to much syncretism.


A Gathering Of The Dukut Clan
More than 300 descendants of a prince named Dukut gathered in Ipoh for the recent Aidil Fitri celebrations.

They were mostly Malaysians, but also comprised Indonesians, Singaporeans and Australians.

Dukut Maharajo, their ancestor, was a prince of the Mandailing Batak people who hail from the modern-day province of Medan or North Sumatra in Indonesia.

He migrated to Ipoh from the then Batak kingdom of Deli, a former protectorate of the Johor Empire, back in the 1880s. At that time, the nine islands that make up the modern-day Republic of Indonesia were a Dutch colony known as the Dutch East Indies.

The Sultan of Johor had ceded them to Holland back in 1824 courtesy of the London Treaty which also ceded Singapore to Britain.

Dukut’s descendants gathered for the annual Muslim festival in Kepayang Village, Ipoh.

Dukut left Deli to work in Perak, and settled in Chemor, Ipoh. There, he married Halijah, a Kelantanese woman whose father was a religious teacher.

They had 8 children.

Dukut died in the 1940s.

The oldest surviving child of Dukut, Mailan, is 97. She was unable to attend the celebration as she is bedridden.

The Batak people of Sumatra are Aboriginal Malays. They comprise 16 subgroups namely the Toba, Karo, Timur, Dairi, Mandailing, Angkola, Deli, Nias, Aceh, Gayo, Alas, Simeulue, Mentawai, Enggano, Lampung and Lom.

The Batak people are descended from the Kanak Aboriginal Malay people of Johor, and earlier the Aboriginal Malay people of Kedah.

Famous Mandailing Batak People
Famous Malaysians of Batak ancestry include former Selangor Menteri Besar (Chief Ministers) Datuk Seri Harun Idris and Tan Sri Muhammad Muhammad Taib [now a Federal Cabinet Minister], former Perak Menteri Besar Tan Sri Ramli Ngah Talib, former Cabinet Ministers Tan Sri Senu Abdul Rahman, Tan Sri Sanusi Junid and Tun Daim Zainuddin, former Education Ministry director-general Tan Sri Aminuddin Baki, Indian classical dancer Ramli Ibrahim, jazz queen Sheila Majid, banker Tan Sri Azman Hashim, actors and TV hosts Ahmad Tarmimi Siregar and Adlin Aman Ramlie, actors Cico Harahap and A. R. Badul, Opposition politician Saifuddin Nasution Ismail, historian Razak Lubis, pop singer Nordiana Muhammad (daughter of Muhammad Muhammad Taib), former police chief Tun Haniff Omar, iconic actors Tan Sri P. Ramlee and A. R. Tompel [father of Adlin and Badul] and Singapore’s first President Tun Yusuf Ishak.

Malaysia’s first Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra, a prince of Kedah (whose indigenous people the Kedah Aboriginal Malays are the origin of the Kanak Aboriginal Malays)

(source: 2-10-2008,

The Mandailing and the Angkola are two closely related Batak people groups who live in the South Tapanuli Regency of North Sumatera Province. Although they sometimes seem to be one group, they are differentiated both regionally and religiously. The Angkola live to the north of the Mandailing. The Mandailing are proud to have almost no Christians among their group while the Angkola group is 3-5% Christian. The Mandailing people consider themselves more polite than other Batak groups. Like most other Bataks, the Mandailing people group is very proud of their culture. One of the most significant characteristics of Batak culture is dalihan na tolu (3 Hearths), which is a carefully established stratified relationship system between three kinship groups. Ancestry and family names are important to the Batak peoples. The ability to trace their family ancestry has great meaning to the Mandailing people. Most of them are able to trace their ancestry back for 20 generations - some even further back. Because of this, if a Mandailing couple does not have any children, it is regarded as a disgrace by the community.

Unconfirmed source from blog:
Kaum Batak berasal dari kaum Miao atau Hmong di Thailand. Orang Miao atau Hmong juga adalah nenek moyang orang Melayu Kedah dan orang Iban di Sarawak. Kaum Batak adalah campuran orang Melayu Asli Kedah dan Melayu Asli Selangor yang dipanggil Temuan.

Kaum Batak terdiri daripada suku kaum Toba, Angkola, Mandailing, Gayo, Alas, Aceh, Simeulue, Nias, Mentawai, Enggano, Lampung, Lom dan Deli, selain suku kaum Karo, Timur dan Dairi.

Masyarakat Minangkabau di Sumatera Barat dan Negeri Sembilan mempunyai pertalian sejarah dengan masyarakat Batak termasuk Mandailing.

Orang Melayu Minangkabau berasal dari suku kaum Melayu Asli Semelai di Bera, Pahang dan juga orang Melayu Asli Temuan di Selangor.

Related articles:
1. Batak (Indonesia),
2. Mandailing,
3. Mandailing Islam Across Borders(2005), by Abdur-Razzaq Lubis, Taiwan Journal of South East Asian Studies, Vol2 No.2, 2005 pg 55-98;
4. Mainstreaming the Minorities: The Case of the Mandailings in Malaysia and Indonesia , by Abdur-Razzaq Lubis,

1 comment:

  1. I can't help wondering why people try to explain very simple things in such a contrived way. The Mandailing language is linguistically very close to the Angkola, Dairi, Karo, Simalungun and Toba languages, all spoken in North Sumatra province, and also to the Alas-Kluet language spoken in Aceh language. These seven languages form a group linguists call "Batak" (see

    If languages are related, it means that the people who speak them have historical and cultural ties. The rest is mere discourse,