Mandailing people

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Mandailing people
COLLECTIE TROPENMUSEUM Bruidspaar uit Pakantan Tapanuli Noord-Sumatra TMnr 10002962.jpg
A photograph of a Mandailing couple from Pakantan, Mandailing Natal Regency, North Sumatra, Indonesia.
Total population
Regions with significant populations
North Sumatra (1,035,000)
West Sumatra (214,000)
Riau (210,000)
Jakarta (80,000)
Malaysia (30,000)[2]
Mandailing language
Islam (predominately), Christianity
Related ethnic groups
Minangkabau people, Malay people, Alas people, Gayo people, Karo people, Batak people

The Mandailing is a traditional cultural group in Southeast Asia. They are found mainly in the northern section of the island of Sumatra in Indonesia. They came under the influence of the Kaum Padri who ruled the Minangkabau of Tanah Datar. As a result, the Mandailing were influenced by Muslim culture and converted to Islam. There are also a group of Mandailing in Malaysia, especially in the states of Selangor and Perak. They are closely related to the Angkola.


The etymology of 'Mandailing' is said to be a coupounding of the words mande, meaning 'mother', and hilang, meaning 'lost'. Thus, the name is said to mean "lost mother". The Mandailing society is patriarchal, employing family names, or marga,. The well known margas in Mandailing clan are: Lubis, Nasution, Siregar, Hasibuan, Harahap, Dalimunthe (originally from Munthe), Matondang, Rangkuti, Parinduri, Pulungan, Rambe, Daulae(y), Pohan, Batubara (not to be confused with the Batu Bara people from the east coast of Sumatra), Barus and Hutajulu.


According to Tamboen's account (1952) the Mandailing, along with other sub-ethnic Batak groups are the descendants of one man by the name of Batak;[3] who migrated to the south before the coming of the Portuguese and Dutch colonisation of Sumatra. Dutch colonization in Sumatra caused the Mandailing to be typecast as a sub-category of the Batak, as a 'wedge policy' to classify the communities and create typologies. It instilled the division of the Islamic nations by a non-Muslim belt, called 'Bataklanden' (Bataklands).[4] The Mandailing were associated with the Toba Batak people instead of being recognized as a distinct ethnic minority. Consequently, the Mandailing people have been torn between two cultural and ethnic identities, namely Batak-Mandailing in Indonesia and Malay-Mandailing in Malaysia.[4]

The Padri War[edit]

The Padri War, which took place in West Sumatra and spread to the inland parts of East Sumatra between 1803 and 1845, caused an exodus of large groups of Mandailing from their homeland to peninsular Malaya. Among them were groups led by Raja Asal, the overlord of the Mandailings, and his nephew Raja Bilah. Together with Sutan Puasa, they were embroiled in the Klang War from 1866 to 1873, also known as the Selangor War.[5]

Raja Asal and Raja Bilah fled to Perak, where their followers settled in Lower Perk and the Kinta Valley. The British appointed Raja Bilah penghulu of Blanja while his son Raja Yacob became penghulu of Tronoh, which generated large revenues after the opening of the Tronoh Mines, the largest tin producer in the world in the 1920s.[5]


Mandailing is the name of region Luat Mandailing, which is now almost in Mandailing Natal Regency in North Sumatra. The first group who came to this region were the Lubis and Nasution, later followed by the Siregar, Harahap and so forth. Nasution and Lubis are the biggest groups in Mandailing clan. While other groups, such as Pulungan, Harahap, Matondang, Rangkuti, and others are the smaller groups of Luat Mandailing. Harahap and Siregar dwell almost in Luat Angkola, which now belongs to South Tapanuli Regency, situated between Regency and North Tapanuli Regency.

The Great Mandailing[edit]

The Mandailing people are also known as the great travellers as more and more of the Mandailings are migrating to the various regions in the country as well as around the world. Many of the Mandailings are playing the important roles of the nation. The Indonesian government considered the Mandailings as one of the main tribes in the country. Many Mandailings keep detailed family tree records as it has become the family tradition. It is reported that 98% of the Mandailing ethnic group are Muslim.[citation needed] There are approximately more than one hundred thousand Mandailings In Malaysia nowadays. Many of the Mandailings in Malaysia are visiting their ancestors in Mandailing Regency in Indonesia as it has been a tradition to keep the brotherhood and strong bond of unity among the Mandailings.

The Mandailings are vey rich in language where they have good or smooth sounds. Therefore, the Mandailings are well known as the smooth people.

The Mandailing classic of daun ubi tumbuk or mashed tapioca leaves, lush with bunga kantan, lemongrass and coconut milk flavour is the most famous food among the Mandailings.

They have a traditional ensemble of drums called Gordang Sambilan.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Leo Suryadinata, Evi Nurvidya Arifin, Aris Ananta (2003). Indonesia's Population: Ethnicity and Religion in a Changing Political Landscape. Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. ISBN 9-8123-0212-3. 
  2. ^ Didata Malaysia, Tor-tor Tetap Milik Tapanuli
  3. ^ Masri Singarimbun (1975). Kinship, Descent, and Alliance Among the Karo Batak. University of California Press. ISBN 0-5200-2692-6. 
  4. ^ a b Abdur-Razzaq Lubis. Mandailing-Batak-Malay: A People Defined and Divided. In: 'From Palermo to Penang: A Journey into Political Anthropology', University of Fribourg, 2010.
  5. ^ a b Abdul-Razzaq Lubis and Khoo Salma Nasution. Raja Bilah and the Mandailings in Perak: 1875–1911. Kuala Lumpur: Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society (MBRAS), 2003.

Further reading[edit]

  • Mangaradja Ihoetan (1926), Asal-Oesoelnja Bangsa Mandailing: Berhoeboeng dengan perkara tanah Wakaf bangsa Mandailing, di Soengei Mati - Medan, Sjarikat Tapanoeli 
  • Syahmerdan Lubis gelar Baginda Raja Muda (1997), Adat Hangoluan Mandailing, Tapanuli Selatan, S. Lubis, OCLC 6169347 
  • Zulkifli Lubis; Enni Syarifah Hrp; Lizar Andrian; Naga Sakti Harahap; Septian H. Lubis (2012), Kearifan Lokal Masyarakat Mandailing Dalam Tata Kelola Sumberdaya Alam Dan Lingkungan Sosial, Balai Pelestarian Nilai Budaya Banda Aceh, ISBN 6-0294-5723-3 

External links[edit]