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Kain Ulos

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Batak ethnic society could not apart from the use of ulos cloth, both in daily life and in various traditional ceremonies. In the beginning, ulos was identical to the amulets, believed to contain “power” which was religious, magical and was considered as a sacred thing and had a special power to provide protection. According to some researches, the use of ulos by Batak tribes shows similarities to the Karen tribe – a tribe who live on the border of Myanmar, Thailand and Laos, especially on the headband, it has similar pattern to ulos cloth.

Before knowing foreign-made textiles, ulos (called UIS by Batak Karo tribe) was used as daily wear of Batak tribes.If it’s worn by men, the top was called ande-ande, while the bottom was called singkot, and as the headgear was called tali-tali, bulang-bulang, sabe-sabe or detar. At that time, Batak men in daily life usually wore plaid woven sarongs (sometimes replaced by ulos which is called singkot), tali-tali (headgear) and clothes shaped black parenthesis shirts, and barefoot. But not all kinds of ulos can be used in daily life. For example ulos jugia, sadum, ragi Hotang, ragidup, and runjat, can only be used at certain times.

Ulos as one of the Batak cultural heritage should continue to be developed in order to be known by worldwide. Besides, Ulos has its own privilege that is not owned by any other woven fabrics. It is not merely a product shaped woven fabric but also has its own position in the Batak culture which is known as their warm compassion.

Generally the weaving craft of ulos Batak in Northern Sumatera is still dominated by Batak’s women. But it does not mean that men can not take part in this weaving craft. For example, Daniel Sianturi (17 Years old) a Batak youth from Siantar, he is adept in weaving ulos. It needs two weeks for this young man to learn how to weave ulos Batak. As he told to, it’s begun when he watched and noticed her mother weaved ulos Batak then it intrigued his interest to learn and now from what he learned, Daniel can help his parents as well. Daniel has been able to weave ulos Batak since in Junior High School. It was difficult at the beginning he said, but because often noticing his parents, he could pass the difficulties.

In Siantar, weaving ulos batak is called kasuksak (katuktak) According to Daniel, it needs about one week even more to finish one roll of ulos and depends on the intention as well, he added. From a roll of woven material could produces approximately a hundred strands of ulos.

To create a motive of ulos expertly and deftly, Daniel must inserts the yarn and swings the woven timber without stopping long and so on. He did it only by guessing the sequence exactly without counting the threads anymore.

“While waiting for college schedule, it’s better for me to spend the time to weave”, said Daniel. In a small hut measuring 3×3 meters located in front of the house, each day Daniel spends his daily time to help his parents to weave.

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