Malay Influences in Batak Cultural System

The use of terms Hulu and Hilir to refer different parts of a state is common in Malay world, where the importance of riverine communications lead naturally to the use of geographic expressions such as “upstream” and “downstreams”. Similar term occur in Batak Languages, for instance “dolok” refers to hilly area, “holbung” refers to low lying.

Malay word also assimilated in Batak Language to the name of clans, such as Tobing refers to “toward the river” and “dolok” indicates the opposites direction. “Julo” which is similar to Malay word “hulu” suggestsinland while “jae” indicates a coastal direction.

These words are often used in conjunction with ordinary place names where an area contains different types of landscape; for instance in the Barus hinterland are Tukka Holbung and Tukka Dolok, also the name of clans such as Pasaribu Dolok and Pasaribu Tobing.

A list of geographical terms and their definitions may be found on a map published by C.M. Pleyte, “Schetskaart der reisrouten ter ontdekking van het Toba-Meer,” in conjunction with his article “De Verkenning der Bataklanden,” TAG 12 (1895): 71-96 and 727-40.

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