Stick Dance or Tor Tor Tongkat Tunggal Panaluan, a Ritual Dance of Batak People, North Sumatra

Tor Tor Tongkat Panaluan  is a ritual dance which comes from North Sumatra, it is one of the traditional dances of the Batak people, which has existed for hundreds of years.

The Tongkat Panaluan dance is the most sacred for the Batak community, because this dance has a deep meaning among those people who in the past had direct spiritual contact with the life spirit of the Batak people named Mula Jadi Na Bolon. So Tongkat Panaluan is believed to be a direct communication link with Mula Jadi Na Bolon. The faith of the Batak community in Mula Jadi Na Bolon is a faith that was transmitted by ancestors in the past specifically to the Batak people, who still adhere to the local religions on the Samosir Island.

In the past, for example, when a village suffered from various disasters, whether spiritual or natural, people turned to elders or shamans for advice who were thought to be able to help solve the problem. Then the shamans turned to the ruling king with a request to perform the ritual dance of Tongkat Panaluan. Thus, the ritual was intended to avoid any dangers, both real and metaphysical.

Also, this ritual was used to make important decisions in inaugural ceremonies, and the staff was used to cause rain during the dry season.

Tunggal Panaluan is a stick-shaped object about 170 cm long, usually owned by Datu Bolon (shaman). Tongkat Tunggal Panaluan is one of the art of the Batak people, which is known all over the world and is carved, according to events taking place in the legend, from a particular tree that also has supernatural powers. Batak people believe that this object has magical powers, It can cause rain, stop rain, heal diseases, find and catch enemies, help in war, etc.

There are several versions of the story of the appearance of the Tongkat Tunggal Panaluan stick, but in essence the stories are almost the same or similar. The following is the story or legend of the origin of Tongkat Tunggal Panaluan.

Once in the Pangururan district, on the island of Samosir, it was in the village of Sidogordogor that a man named Hatimbulan lived. He was a shaman named “Datu Arak Ni Pane.” His wife’s name was Nan Sindak Panaluan. They were married for a long time, but they had no children. But once a woman became pregnant and it happened during a severe drought, pregnancy surprised all the villagers and they considered this a supernatural phenomenon.

Seeing how severe a drought it has been for a long time, King Bius (the head of the Malim community) went to Guru Hatimbulan and asked him: “Maybe it would be better for us to ask Mula Jadi Na Bolon why the air is so hot and dry? How long it will be going on?”. Then Guru Hatimbulan replied: “All this can be.” then King Bius said: “All the villagers were surprised why your wife was pregnant for so long, they said that her pregnancy was too long.” Thus, a quarrel arose between King Bius and Guru Hatimbulan.

After some time, the time came for Guru Hatimbulan’s wife, the woman gave a birth to twins, a boy and a girl, and then it immediately began to rain heavily and all the plants and trees became fresh again and everything turned green. To celebrate all this, Guru Hatimbulan stabbed a buffalo to reconcile the forces of evil. He also invited all the elders and heads of villages to the feast where the names of the children were announced, his son was given the name of Si Aji Donda Hatahutan, and his daughter’s name was Si Boru Tapi Nauasan.

After the celebration, some guests advised Guru Hatimbulan to raise children separately. To deliver one child to the west, and another to the east, since it is considered an unfavorable sign of the birth of two heterosexual twins.

But Guru Hatimbulan did not obey the advice of the elders, he went to Pusuk Buhit, built a hut there and sent his children to live there.

The hut was guarded by a dog, and every day Guru Hatimbulan brought food to the children. Once, when the children became big, his daughter went for a walk in the forest and saw a big tree, Piu-piu Tanggulon (hau tada-tada), whose trunk was full of thorns, but had sweet fruits. The girl wanted to try them, she picked several fruits and ate them. At that moment, the tree devoured her and only her head was visible. Her brother, Si Aji Donda Hatahutan, anxiously waited for his sister to return home, then he went to the forest to look for her, shouting the name of his sister. When he was tired, he found himself next to a tree and heard his sister’s voice. She told what happened to her.

Si Aji Donda Hatahutan climbed a tree, but was also absorbed and became one with the tree. Brother and sister called for help, but their voices simply disappeared into the darkness of the forest.

The next morning, their dog went for a walk, heard voices and jumped on a tree, and the dog was also absorbed by the tree, only it head remained visible.

As usual, Guru Hatimbulan came to his children’s hut to bring them food, but didn’t meet them, so he followed in their wake into the forest, until he finally found a tree and there, he saw only the heads of his children and the dog.

Seeing this, he became sad. From the information known to him, in this case, Datu Parmanuk Koling could help him, with whom he met and told his story about the children absorbed in the tree. Datu Parmanuk Koling prayed and recited a mantra in order to convince the spirit captivating the children of Guru Hatimbulan to let them go. After the end of the ritual, Datu Parmanuk Koling went to the tree, but the same thing happened, the tree swallowed him.

Guru Hatimbulan returned home disappointed, but he tried not to despair and continued to look for another Datu. Guru Hatimbulan was glad to hear that the great Datu had appeared, his name was Marangin Bosi or Datu Mallantang Maliting. Datu Mallantang Maliting went to the tree, but he suffered the same fate.

Then the tree swallowed both Datu Boru Si Baso Bologne, and Datu Horbo Marpaung, and Si Aji Bahar (Jolma So Begu), who was half human and half demon. Then the snake was also swallowed by a tree. Guru Hatimbulan was going crazy because he spent a lot of money on fighting the spirit of the tree, but to no avail.

A few days later, a Datu called Si Parpansa Ginjang told the Guru that he could free the children from the captivity of the tree. Guru believed Datu and provided everything necessary to make offerings to all spirits, the spirit of earth, the spirit of water, the spirit of tree, etc.

When Datu finished casting spells in front of the tree, he chopped it down, but all the heads of the people who were on the tree, as well as the dogs and snakes swallowed by the tree, disappeared. Everyone who saw this was shocked, and then Datu carefully told the Guru: “Cut the tree into pieces and cut out the image of people swallowed by this tree.” Guru Hatimbulan chopped a tree trunk into pieces and cut a stick in the shape of 5 people, 2 children, a dog and a snake. And then he returned to the village, where he made a sacrifice as a buffalo, to honor those who were carved on a stick.

Having finished the ritual dance, Guru Hatimbulan put a stick in front of the rice shed. After that, only Datu Parpansa Ginjang continued the ritual dance, he was obsessed with the spirits of people who were consumed by the tree and they spoke one after another “We curse you, sculptor!” Datu replied: “Do not curse him, but curse this knife without this knife, he couldn’t carve your image. ”But the knife said; “Do not curse me, but curse the blacksmith. If he had not made me, I would never have been a knife. “The blacksmith replied:” Do not curse me, but curse the wind, without the wind I could not forge iron. “The wind replied:” Do not curse me, but curse Guru Hatimbulan . ”Then everyone looked at Guru Hatimbulan and the spirit through Datu said:“ I curse you, father, and also you, mother, who gave birth to me. ” Then Guru Hatimbulan replied: “Do not curse me, but curse yourself. You are the one who fell into the pit and was killed with a knife, and you have no children. ”

Then the Spirit said: “Well, let it be so, father, and use me” to: “Tame the rain”, “Call rain during the dry season”, “Tame weapons during wars”, “Heal diseases”, “Catch thieves”, etc. After the ceremony, each of them went home.

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