Batak History

History of Si Raja Batak

Batak early historians had claimed that Si Raja Batak (King Batak, the first leader of the land) and his entourage came from Thailand. They crossed over to Sumatra via the Malaysian peninsula and finally got to Sianjur Mulamula (now Sigulanti Village) and settled there.

But the inscription dated 1208 found in Portibi and read by Professor Nilakantisari (an archaeologist from Madras, India) explains that in 1024 the Cola Kingdom of India attacked Kingdom of Srivijaya of Indonesia and took over the area of Barus, a port city about 120 kilometers (75 mi) west of Lake Toba.

Si Raja Batak lived around 1200 (beginning of the 13th century.)

From the above findings, later historians have concluded that the ancestor of Si Raja Batak is most likely an official or a warrior from the Kingdom of Srivijaya, who initially stayed in Barus. This conclusion comes from the fact that the kingdom (based in Palembang) controlled the entire archipelago of Indonesia in the 12th century.

As a result of the Cola attacks, the ancestors of Si Raja Batak got pushed down to the area of Portibi, south of Lake Toba. From there, it was possible that Si Raja Batak began to take the reins of the war. Or it may be that he started elsewhere and expanded his territory later to include the area around Lake Toba, Simalungun, Karo, Dairi, and parts of Aceh, then moved his power center to Portibi.

At the end of the 12th century or around 1275, the Kingdom of Majapahit attacked Srivijaya, including the stronghold of Si Raja Batak. The attack forced him to back off to the west of Pangururan, i.e., the shores of Lake Toba. The area was named Sianjur Mulamula at the foot of a hill called Pusuk Buhit. He then inhabited the area with his entourage.

The title of King to Si Raja Batak is the name that his followers or his descendants give to him as a tribute, not because he is a king. There is no evidence to show the existence of a kingdom called the Batak Kingdom at the time. Batak tribe is very respectful of its ancestors, so almost all ancestors of the Batak clans receive the royal title as a tribute. Their tombs reflect this respect, built in such a way as monuments that cost millions of dollars. The buildings are intended not only as a tribute to the ancestors but also a reminder to the younger generation of their genealogies.

In the Batak ethnic community system, there is also what is called Marga which is used to identify clans by following the male lineage. There are about 227 Marga names in the Batak tribe. According to the Batak genealogical record, Si Raja Batak has three children:

  1. Guru Tate Bulan (The Lontung King);
  2. King Isombaon (The King of Sumba); and
  3. Toga Laut (Marine Toga).

The children continued Si Raja Batak’s reins and leadership in the Batak land. They also represent the origin of the formation of clans in the tribe.

History of Batak Kingdom

King Sisingamangaraja I established a kingdom on the Batak land around 1500. Bakkara was the seat of the nation that lasted for about 400 years and saw 12 kings taking power in turn. The territory covers the area of what is currently known as Humbahas, Karo, Samosir, Simalungun, Pematangsiantar, and Toba Samosir. The main activity of the population is fishing and agriculture.

The Netherlands invaded the Batak Kingdom in 1887 as part of the Dutch colonization in South East Asia. The two kingdoms fought for 30 years. The latter fell to the Netherlands when the last king of Batak, known as King Sisingamangaraja XII, died in the war in 1907. Like his predecessors, he is the offspring (19th generation) of Si Raja Batak.

To see the primary artifacts of the kingdom, visit the Tomb of King SisingamangarajaAek SipangoluJanji Waterfall, the Tomb of Siraja Oloan, and most importantly the Sisingamangaraja Palace.