Toba in View

Batak fisherman in solu

Solus, dugout canoes, are used for fishing with nets and crayfish pots on Lake Toba

"...It was growing late when we stopped to greet a man vigorously paddling a dugout solu in the opposite direction to us. He said he was in a hurry to get home before dark, and he waved his hand in the air, looking up and all around, drawing our attention to the sky. It was dimming, but not dark yet.

He may have been in a hurry, but he was curious about our kayaks. Stopped, he took the opportunity to smoke the lit cigarette he held in his hand while he paddled. As he took long slow drags on it, the distinctive scent of cloves wafted across the water.

Smoking, especially the clove-scented kretek, is said to have become ingrained in Indonesian culture ever since the Dutch established tobacco plantations in the 1800s. Indonesia, one of the world’s biggest tobacco producers, has one of the highest percentages of smokers to non-smokers in the world. "

Batak winnowing rice on street Bakara,

Men winnowing rice outside house in Bakara, Toba





"...From the back end of the winnower spat the ejected husks and fragments of stalk and debris gathered with the harvest. This piled up onto a small blue tarp. The air was loud with clatter and full of flying dust from the husks, and with exhaust fumes from the motor."
backstrap loom weaving traditional ulos fabric Sibandang Island

Batak woman weaving ceremonial ulos on back-strap loom on Sibandang Island, Toba



Traditional weaving methods are used on Sibandang Island to craft the ceremonial ulos. Yarn was once dyed using ingredients gathered from the forest.

"...It was the first time I had seen a loom like this. The weaver sat on a mat, on a low wooden platform, on the tiled floor. With her legs outstretched before her, and with both foot brace and back support, she sat just as if in a kayak. By straightening her legs, pushing back against the wooden back support, she could tension the warp on the frame. When she slid forward a little, the tension eased enough for her to lift a batten on edge, creating a tunnel between the warps for the shuttle."