Tuesday, July 20, 2010


Hutabarat is the name of a village in the Silindung Valley and the name of a marga or lineage. The Hutabarats hail from Hutabarat.

Today marks three weeks since my return to The Netherlands. It always takes awhile to adjust. My transition has been smoothed, this past weekend, by two guests, Ibu Bonaria Hutabarat and Dr. Kristel Westerhausen. Ibu Hutabarat was the head of the nurse’s residence in Balige where I stayed in 1979-80; Dr. Westerhausen worked at the hospital across the street for many years, but returned to Germany in 1982. The depth of kindness and caring in these two women endeared them to me forever.

Moreover, we are sisters. By chance, I was adopted into the Hutabarat marga and I am as many generations removed from the apical ancestor as Ibu Ria. The same goes for Dr. Westerhausen who was also adopted by the clan. We three sisters were together again for the first time since 1980.

Giving a copy of Legacy to Ibu Ria was high on my list of priorities in North Sumatra but she was visiting her sister, Dr. Westerhausen in Germany during the month of June. I didn’t get my chance until this past weekend.

Ibu Ria, now a vibrant 81-year-old, is the daughter of Raja Renatus Hutabarat about whom I write on page 84 of Legacy. I know the textiles that he sent to J.E. Jasper’s Annual Market in Surabaya in 1909, for which he won first prize, because they are now stored in the Tropenmuseum in Amsterdam. I will never forget the day that Ibu Ria came to me in Balige and showed me the certificate that he had received on that occasion; she had saved it carefully for many years.

Before I left Indonesia in 1980, Ibu Ria and her brother gave me the textile depicted on page 395 of Legacy in a little goodbye ceremony in their home. (Ibu Ria told me this past weekend that the textile was very old and had been a gift from a member of the Siregar clan, from the southern Batak area.) The son and daughter-in-law of Ibu Ria’s brother are depicted on p. 73, when they baptized their baby Helen. There were many reasons, therefore, to visit their home during this past trip, even though Ibu Ria was then in Germany.

The visit took place on June 15. Jonny Hutagalung, my Batak brother, took the photographs. I sat down with Mamak Helen (Duma, Br. Simunjuntak) and presented her with the book courtesy of the Indonesian Heritage Society. The moment when I showed her her picture was very merry. Afterwards, her father-in-law inspected the book very carefully. I wish I knew what his impressions were.

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