As with any people, there are certain folk lore or legends about how these people came into being in this region.
Lake Toba legend
History shows that Lake Toba was produced from a huge volcanic eruption, creating a crater which filled with water over thousands of years but the Batak people have a different story to tell:
Thousands of years ago before Lake Toba was a lake, this regions was lush farm land. One solitary farmer discovered the Toba valley and decided to make it his home.
He found a nice stretch of land he could farm for his own existence, along side a small lake.
As well as the fine produce his farm produced, the lake provided him with ample fish to eat.
One day, while farming his land he noticed a fish poking it's head out of the water watching him. Thinking this could be lunchtime he moved closer to the lake to see if he could catch the fish. As he came close to the fish ready to pounce, the fish spoke to him.
He froze, amazed that the fish could speak. The fish said that she could take human form and be with him as his wife and bear him a son.
Although he was happy on his land, with all the food he could eat he had been lonely so he quickly agreed. Before she took human form she said to him that he could tell no-one that she was really a fish from the lake, otherwise she would return to the lake as a fish and could never be with him again. He was not bothered by this as he had not seen anyone else in the valley since he discovered it, so knew he would not tell anyone.
They became man and wife, and she bore him 2 sons. He enjoyed many happy years with his beautiful wife and 2 sons. After several years the boys were strong enough to help their father farming their food.
Each day the father and 2 sons would set off across the farm attending to all it's needs. It was hard work in the hot conditions of Sumatra but each day his faithful wife would bring him and her sons lunch and cool water to drink, spending time talking and laughing with her family.
Late one morning, while she was preparing the lunch for her boys and husband, she had an accident in the kitchen and had to attend to her wounds before heading off to take the food and water to her family.
The husband noticed that his wife has not appeared at the usual time of day when they most needed food and water. They worked on knowing she would not be far. As the time passed, the husband become more tired from the work, hungry and dehydrated from the sun. Soon the husband erupted into a rage, believing his wife had betrayed her family. He quickly yelled to his sons that he was stupid for marrying a fish.
As soon as he said that she transformed back to a fish, returning to the lake. She realised why she had returned and was stricken with grief as she would never see her children or husband again. For the rest of her life tears fell down her face which eventually filled the Toba valley creating the huge Lake Toba of today.
West Sumatran buffalo fight with the Javanese
The Javanese came to Sumatra and tried to counquer them so they could take control of the rich fertile farming land.
The West Sumatrans proposed that they settle the land dispute with a bull fight.
The Javan King, knowing he had many fine bulls accepted the proposal.
The Javans wen't back to select their finist bull and toot it to West Sumatra to fight with their prize bull.
The Javan bull was put into the bull ring and was very surprised to see a small baby calf (female) come into the ring to fight. The Javan bull rather amused stood their allowing the calf the chance to knock him over.
The West Sumatrans had strategically placed metal spikes onto the small horns the calf was developing.
As the calf was still suckling from her mother, she had strong neck muscles to reach up to the teats.
The calf mistook the bull for it's mother and ran to its underbelly and began proding to find a teat to feed on.
The repeated jabs from the metal spikes ensure a quick death of the Javanese bull.
The Javanese quickly retreated back to Java allowing the West Sumatrans to feast on the dead Javanese bull and to keep their land.
Bukit Tinggi local folklore called Bujang Sembilan
Sumatran tigers/pussy cat
Thousands of years ago, before man had entered the jungles of Sumatra and the animals rule the land the Sumatran Tiger and cat (before it was domesticated) were proud cousins, always helping each other out in the big bad jungle.
One day a very hungry Sumatran Tiger had been hunting for food for days. It was loosing energy and not sure if it could catch anything substantial to eat. As he was loosing all hope he look up into a banana tree and saw one of his cousins high in the tree, where he couldn't reach, feasting on bananas.
Although the Sumatran Tiger didn't eat bananas he thought that if he had a few it many give him enough energy to catch a tasty deer.
He called to his cousin for him to throw down some bananas to give him more energy so he could hunt something to eat.
The cat became scared and thought that if the Tiger only had a bit of energy he may become his second course before he went hunting for some deer.
The yelled to the Tiger that he would help him to gain some energy but he wanted the Tiger to open his mouth and close his eyes, so the cat could feed him but have some time to flee before becoming lunch.
The Tiger agreed, closing his eyes and opening his eyes. The mischievous cat decided to play a trick on the Tiger, not feeding him bananas to strengthen him but to weaken him to ensure his own escape.
The cat turned around and pooped off the tree into the Tigers hungry mouth. As the Tiger started to chew he realised he was not chewing on sweet bananas. He quickly spat his mouth load out and yelled up into the trees as the cat bolted through the canopy, ' CAT! You may have fooled me, but now that I have tasted your poo, and know what you poo smells like, I can track you anywhere in the jungle and will catch you!'.
Since that day the cat, and his ancestors, the domestic cat bury their poo!
Last updated 20th July 2008
English - Indonesian translator/dictionary
© 2009 Sumatra Travel
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