|+ 4,100,000 (2020)|
|Regions with significant populations|
North Sumatra: Toba Samosir Regency, Samosir Regency, Humbang Hasundutan Regency, Sibolga, Pematang Siantar, Medan, Dairi, Deli Serdang, and the surrounding areas = 3,000,000
Singapore Malaysia European Union United States = + 1,100
|Toba Batak language, Indonesian language|
|Christianity 97.8%, Sunni Islam 2%, Other 0.2%|
|Related ethnic groups|
|Angkola people, Karo people, Mandailing people, Pakpak people, Simalungun people|
Toba Batak people (Batak script: ᯅᯖᯂ᯲ ᯖᯬᯅ) are the largest ethnic group of the Batak peoples of North Sumatra, Indonesia. The common phrase of ‘Batak’ usually refers to the Batak Toba people. This mistake is caused by the Toba people being the largest sub-group of the Batak ethnic and their differing social habit has been to self-identify as merely Batak instead of ‘Toba’ or ‘Batak Toba’, contrary to the habit of the Karo, Mandailing, Simalungun, Pakpak communities who commonly self-identify with their respective sub-groups.
The Toba people are found in Toba Regency, Humbang Hasundutan Regency, Samosir Regency, North Tapanuli Regency, Central Tapanuli Regency (with Sibolga and its surrounding regions), and part of Dairi Regency.The Batak Toba people speak in the Toba Batak language and are centered on Lake Toba and Samosir Island within the lake. Batak Toba people frequently build in traditional Batak architecture styles which are common on Samosir. Cultural demonstrations, performances and festivities such as Sigale Gale are often held for tourists.
Paleontological research done in Humbang region of the west side of Toba Lake suggests that human activity had existed 6,500 years ago. The genetic test of the Toba Batak people shown that the Toba Batak are the descendants of different people with distinct genetic components. The ancestors of the Toba Batak are the people migrated from Formosa thousands years ago.
There were numerous kingdoms and dynasties in the history of the Batak and Toba Batak people. The last dynasty in the Toba Batak people is the Sisingamangaraja dynasty with twelve successive priest kings called ‘Sisingamangaraja’ from the Sinambela clan. During the time when the Batak kingdom was based in Bakara, the Sisingamangaraja dynasty of the Batak kingdom divided their kingdom into four regions by the name of Raja Maropat, which are:
The Dutch colonization starts with the defeat of King Sisingamangaraja XII, ending the thirty years Batak War. The Dutch colonization formally began with the annexation of the Onafhankelijke Batak-Landen or ‘The Free Batak-Country’ into The Dutch East Indies and the formation of Tapanuli Residency in 1910. The Tapanuli Residency is divided into four regions that is called afdeling (in Dutch language means, section); and today it is known as regency or city, namely:
During the Japanese occupation of the Dutch East Indies, the administration of the Tapanuli Residency had little changes.
After the independence, the government of Indonesia retain Tapanuli as Residency. Dr. Ferdinand Lumban Tobing became the first Tapanuli Resident.
Although there were changes made to the name, but the division of the region was still the same. For example, the name of Afdeling Bataklanden was changed to Luhak Tanah Batak and the first luhak (federated region) appointed was Cornelius Sihombing; who was once also a demang (chief) silindung. The title Onderafdeling (in Dutch language means, subdivision) is also changed to urung, and demangs that supervises onderafdeling are promoted as kepala (head) urung. Onderdistrik (subdistrict) then became urung kecil, and is supervised by kepala urung kecil; which was previously known as assistant demang.
Just as it was in the past, the government of the Tapanuli Residency were divided into four districts, namely:
During the transfer of sovereignty in the early 1950s, the Tapanuli Residency that was unified into North Sumatra province were divided into four new regencies, namely:-
In December 2008, the Tapanuli Residency was unified under North Sumatra province. At the moment, Toba is under the Toba Samosir Regency's region with Balige as its capital.
The Toba Batak people practices a distinct culture. The central foundation of their culture is the customs or adat called ‘Dalihan Na Tolu’ (meaning ‘The Three Legged Stove’). The Toba Batak is generally regarded as a patriarchal society. While the role of men is central in the Toba Batak society, the role of women is very crucial with the existence of the Toba Batak concept of ‘Hula hula‘ where women and their families hold a higher ground in familial relations. With the conversion to Christianity of the Toba Batak people in the 19th century, Christianity played a vital part of the life of Toba people with church ordination influenced the customs and regulations of the Toba Batak life. Traditional Toba Batak's adat ceremonies are often present in sacraments such as baptism, confirmation, marriage, and burial, while the church hymns, psalms, prayers are often involved and invoked in traditional ethnic Toba Batak ceremonies.
The Toba Batak people are known to possess a robust tradition of ‘Mangaranto‘ or becoming migrants to look for better education, social and economic opportunities. There is no obligation for Toba people to live in the Toba region, although they are obliged to be attached to their original village in Toba. The original village or Bius of a Toba Batak person is called ‘Bona Pasogit‘. It is often for a Toba Batak person to identify his/her origin not by their birthplaces, but by their Bona Pasogit in ‘Tano Batak‘ or ‘The Batak Land’.
Just as it is with other ethnicities, the Toba people have also migrated to other places to look for better life. For example, majority of the Silindung natives are the Hutabarat, Panggabean, Simorangkir, Hutagalung, Hutapea and Lumbantobing clans. Instead all those six clans are actually descendants of Guru Mangaloksa, one of Raja Hasibuan's sons from Toba region. So it is with the Nasution clan where most of them live in Padangsidimpuan, surely share a common ancestor with their relative, the Siahaan clan in Balige. It is certain that the Toba people as a distinct culture can be found beyond the boundaries of their geographical origins. According to the folklore of the Batak people, the first ancestor of the Batak people is Si Raja Batak , literally means ‘King Batak’ or ‘the King of Batak’. His origin is believed to be from a Toba village known as Sianjur Mula village, situated on the slopes of Mount Pusuk Buhit, about 45 minutes drive from Pangururan, the capital of Samosir Regency today.
A surname or family name ( marga ) is part of a Toba person's name, which identifies the clan or family they belonged to. The Batak Toba people always have a surname or family name. The surname or family name is obtained from the father's lineage (paternal) which would then be passed on to the offspring continuously. Nainggolan, Napitupulu, Pardede, Gultom, Panggabean, Silalahi, Siahaan, Simanjuntak, Sihombing, Sitorus, Panjaitan, Sitompul, Marbun, Lumban Tobing, Aritonang, Pangaribuan, Situmorang, Manurung, Marpaung, Hutapea, Tambunan, Silitonga, Tampubolon, Sinaga, Siregar, Pakpahan, Sidabutar, Aruan, Ambarita, and Simatupang are among the popular surnames. However, the number of all Toba Batak clans are in hundreds.
The traditional house of the Toba people is called rumah bolon . It is a rectangular building that can house up to five or six families. One can enter a rumah bolon through a staircase in the middle of the house with odd numbers of steps (odd number of staircase means offspring of slave, even number of staircase means offspring of king). When a person enters the house, one must bow in order to avoid one's head from knocking the transverse beam at the entrance of the traditional house. The interpretation of this is that the guests must respect the owner of the house.
The traditional boat of the Toba Batak people is the solu . It is a dugout canoe, with boards added on the side bound with iron tacks. The boat is propelled by sitting rowers, who sit in pairs on cross seats.
The Toba Batak are known throughout Indonesia as capable musicians, and are perceived as confident, outspoken and willing to question authority, expressing differences in order to resolve them through discussion. This outlook on life is contrasted to Javanese people, Indonesia's largest ethnic group, who are more culturally conciliatory and less willing to air differences publicly.Batak Toba people also known as professing christians in contrast with the largely muslim population in Indonesia. In terms of occupational sector, Batak Toba is also known to be well represented in some sectors particularly law, education, military, economy, and politics.
An overwhelming majority of the Toba Batak people are adherents of Christianity. The value and practice of Christianity are absorbed deeply into the daily life of the Toba people in combination with the practice of Toba traditional customs known as Adat.The currently pertaining traditional law, customs, and regulations used by most Batak Toba people to regulate their social relations nowadays were products of discussions between the Christian Toba Batak Rajas with the German Missionaries during the 1886 to evaluate the pre-Christian customs of the Toba Batak society to be inline with Christian values and Church Ordinance. The result of this discussion is the codification of Batak Toba customs by the Christian Rajahs and the Missionaries into two treaties: Ruhut Parsaoron di Habatahon 1898 or The Customs regulating the social life of the Batak (referred to as Ruhut), and Patik dohot Uhum ni Halak Batak 1899 or Laws and Regulations of the Batak people (referred to as Patik).
Most of the Toba people are adherents of Protestantism with Lutheranism as the biggest denomination. After Protestantism, Catholicism is the second largest religious belief among the Toba People.Being the largest ethnic group in the Indonesian Protestant community, it is common for Protestant churches in Indonesia to provide service in Toba Batak language.
The first Protestant missionaries who tried to reach the Batak highlands of inner Northern Sumatra were English and American Baptist preachers in the 1820s and 1830s but without any success. After Franz Wilhelm Junghuhn and Herman Neubronner van der Tuuk did intensive research on Batak language and culture in the 1840s, a new attempt was done in 1861 by several missionaries sent out by the German Rhenish Missionary Society (RMG). The first Bataks were baptized during this year. In 1864, Ludwig Ingwer Nommensen from the German Rhenish Missionary Society reached the Batak region and founded a village called "Huta Dame" (village of peace) in the district of Tapanuli in Tarutung, North Sumatra.
The Batak Christian Protestant Church (Huria Kristen Batak Protestan a.k.a (HKBP)) is the largest Protestant church with Lutheranism in Indonesia. It was founded by the German missionaries and still regarded as the traditional church of the Toba Batak people. In the early 20th century, HKBP disported into several independent Protestant churches such as GKPS (Simalungun) and GKPA (Angkola) to accommodate church services for the Batak people outside of the Toba community.
Before the conversion to Christianity, the old belief of the Toba Batak tribe was a mixture of Animism and Hinduism with significant influence of Islam. In the beginning of the 20th century, some Toba Batak Rajahs who refused to embrace Christianity instituted a religion inspired by the pre-Christian Toba Batak beliefs, customs and practices. This religion is called ‘ Ugamo Malim ‘ with its adherents called Parmalim. The Parmalims worship Debata Mula Jadi Nabolon, which means The Great Almighty God.
A minority of Toba Batak are adherents of Sunni Islam. Many of the Muslim Toba Batak are originated from port of Barus, Sorkam, parts of Sibolga, and from Asahan areas. They are generally regarded as the original Toba Batak Muslims, although, sometimes the Batak Muslims from these regions are identified and self-identified as distinct sub-group known as ‘Orang Pesisir’ or ‘Batak Pesisir’ and ‘Batak Pardembanan’ (Asahan). In some cases of conversion to Islam, there are occurrences of Toba Batak Muslims disassociating themselves with Toba Batak customs and identity and prefer association with other ethnic identities (e.g. of their spouses) or to disassociate ethnic identity at all. This would cause the departure from the traditional Toba Batak customs and adoption of the more conventional Islamic customs in instances such as wedding or burial, as many aspects of the former are now seen as no longer compatible with Islamic standard.
North Sumatra is a province of Indonesia located on the northern part of the island of Sumatra. Its capital and largest city is Medan. It is bordered by Aceh on the northwest and Riau and West Sumatra in the southeast, with two different coastlines located on the Indian Ocean and the Strait of Malacca, and a maritime border with Malaysia to the east. North Sumatra is Indonesia's fourth most populous province after West Java, East Java and Central Java, and the third-largest province on the island of Sumatra after the neighbouring Riau. It covers an area of 72,981 km2. According to the 2020 census, the province's population in that year was 14,799,361. The mid-2022 official estimate was 15,115,206. North Sumatra is a multi-ethnic province. The Malay people are regarded as the natives of the east coast of the province, while the west coast of the province is mainly inhabited by the Batak. The central highlands region around Lake Toba is predominantly inhabited by other Batak groups. The Nias people are natives to Nias Island and its surrounding islets. With the opening of tobacco plantations in East Sumatra during the colonial era, the colonial government employed many contract labourers for plantations, mainly Chinese, Javanese and Indian migrants. The majority did not return after their contract ended and decided to stay in the province. The recent rapid urbanisation also attracted neighbouring people from Aceh, Riau and West Sumatra.
Samosir, or Samosir Island, is a large volcanic island in Lake Toba, located in the north of the island of Sumatra in Indonesia. Administratively, Samosir Island is governed as six of the nine districts within Samosir Regency. The lake and island were formed after the eruption of a supervolcano some 75,000 years ago. The island was originally a peninsula connected to the surrounding caldera wall by a small isthmus, which was cut through by the Tano Ponggol Canal in 1907 to aid navigation.
Batak is a collective term used to identify a number of closely related Austronesian ethnic groups predominantly found in North Sumatra, Indonesia, who speak Batak languages. The term is used to include the Karo, Pakpak, Simalungun, Toba, Angkola, and Mandailing ethnic groups. Which are related groups with distinct languages and traditional customs (adat).
Rumah Gadang or Rumah Bagonjong "house for the Minangkabau people" are the traditional homes of the Minangkabau in West Sumatra, Indonesia. The architecture, construction, internal and external decoration, and the functions of the house reflect the culture and values of the Minangkabau. A Rumah Gadang serves as a residence, a hall for family meetings, and for ceremonial activities. In the matrilineal Minangkabau society, the Rumah Gadang is owned by the women of the family who live there; ownership is passed from mother to daughter.
The Karo, or Karonese, are a people of the Tanah Karo and part of the Karo people from North Sumatera, Indonesia. The Karo lands consist of Karo Regency, plus neighboring areas in East Aceh Regency, Langkat Regency, Dairi Regency, Simalungun Regency and Deli Serdang Regency. In addition, the cities of Binjai and Medan, both bordered by Deli Serdang Regency, contain significant Karo populations, particularly in the Padang Bulan area of Medan. The town of Sibolangit, Deli Serdang Regency in the foothills on the road from Medan to Berastagi is also a significant Karo town.
The Mandailing is an ethnic group in Sumatera, Indonesia that is commonly associated with the Batak people. 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. There are also a group of Mandailing in Malaysia, especially in the states of Selangor and Perak. They are closely related to the Angkola and Toba.
The term Parmalim or malim describes the followers of the Malim religion, the modern form of the traditional Batak religion. People who are not familiar with the Batak language may erroneously assume Parmalim is the name of the religion rather than its practitioners.
Humbang Hasundutan Regency is a landlocked regency in North Sumatra province of Indonesia. In the east of the regency, Baktiraja District stretches along a short part of the southern shore of Lake Toba in North Sumatra. The regency covers an area of 2,502.71 km2, and it had a population of 171,687 at the 2010 census and 197,751 at the 2020 census; the official estimate as at mid 2022 was 202,299. Its seat is the town of Dolok Sanggul. To the north is Samosir Regency and Pakpak Bharat Regency, to the east is North Tapanuli Regency, and to the west and south is Central Tapanuli Regency, and beyond the latter the Indian Ocean.
North Padang Lawas is a regency in North Sumatra province of Indonesia. It has an area of 3,918.05 km2, and had a population of 223,049 at the 2010 census and 260,720 at the 2020 census; the official estimate as at mid 2022 was 267,275. North Padang Lawas Regency was created on 17 July 2007 from eastern parts of the South Tapanuli Regency. Its administrative seat is the town of Gunung Tua.
Patuan Bosar SinambelaginoarOmpu Pulo Batu, better known as Si Singamangaraja XII, was the last priest-king of the Batak peoples of north Sumatra. In the course of fighting a lengthy guerrilla war against the Dutch colonisation of Sumatra from 1878 onwards, he was killed in a skirmish with Dutch troops in 1907. He was declared a National Hero of Indonesia in 1961 for his resistance to Dutch colonialism.
Rumah adat are traditional houses built in any of the vernacular architecture styles of Indonesia, collectively belonging to the Austronesian architecture. The traditional houses and settlements of the several hundreds ethnic groups of Indonesia are extremely varied and all have their own specific history. It is the Indonesian variants of the whole Austronesian architecture found all over places where Austronesian people inhabited from the Pacific to Madagascar each having their own history, culture and style.
Samuel Munson was an American Baptist missionary who, together with his colleague Henry Lyman, was murdered and cannibalised in Sumatra.
Angkola people are a Batak ethnic group from North Sumatra who live in South Tapanuli regency. The Angkola language is similar to Mandailing language also with Toba language, but it is sociolinguistically distinct.
Pakpak people or Batak Pakpak are one of the ethnic groups found mainly in North Sumatra, Indonesia. They are scattered in a few regencies and cities in North Sumatra and Aceh, such as Dairi Regency, Pakpak Bharat Regency, Humbang Hasundutan Regency and Central Tapanuli Regency of North Sumatra, and also in Aceh Singkil Regency and Subulussalam, Aceh. Pakpak people have some communities in other cities across Indonesia. The term "Batak Pakpak" also refers to the culture and language of the pakpak people.
Lubu people are an ethnic group who live in central Sumatra, Indonesia. They are similar to the Kubu people, and are also ancestral to the Siladang people. They live in the mountainous regions of Padang Lawas, South Tapanuli, and Mandailing Natal regencies. They are now in the process of being absorbed by the Batak. In the early 20th century, they were a migratory people who lived in tree houses, and now are still a tribal people. Although they live near the rivers, they are fearful of water. They speak the Lubu language.
Batak mythology is the original belief that was once adopted by the Batak people of North Sumatra, Indonesia, namely before the arrival of Protestant, Catholic, or Islamic religions. There are various tarombo versions written on pustaha which historians study, but generally refer to the figures below.
Tapanoeli Residency was an administrative subdivision of the Dutch East Indies with its capital in Sibolga. It was located in northern Sumatra and existed in various forms from 1844 until the end of Dutch rule in 1942. The area it encompassed at various times corresponds to most of the western coast of the current day Indonesian province of North Sumatra and parts of Aceh, including much of the traditional heartland of Batak people. Lake Toba, a historically important crater lake, was also within the borders of the Residency.