IO – North Sumatra’s Toba Lake region. Other than its beautiful natural landscape, the region also has many historic relics from ancient times. One of them can be found in Huta Siallagan, an area where you can still sense the magical pull of life in harsh olden days.
Huta Siallagan is a small village located in Ambarita, Simanindo, Regency of Samosir. You will be instantly transported to the past as you see the bolon houses, the traditional Batak dwellings, comprising most of the village unchanged for hundreds of years. Among these, one stands out for not only its size and more ornate decorations than the surrounding houses, but because it has a grim set of stone table and chairs in front of it. Local guides will tell you a hair-raising tale about this set – one that shows that in the distant past, our Batak ancestors indulged in cannibalism like many other ancient cultures around the world.
This is the Judging Stone of Huta Siallagan, where people were tried for crimes against the king, including lèse majesté and treason. Depending on the severity of their crime, the person might get whipping, locked in the stocks, or even get beheaded.
The heads of those who were beheaded were hung at the village gate, while the bodies will be chopped off and distributed throughout the village for villagers to eat. The inside organs were specifically saved for the king and the royal household. Like many other ancient tribes, the Batak people of long ago believed that by eating a person’s flesh, the powers and knowledge of the eaten one will be transferred to the person eating him or her.
It is good such a tradition no longer exists. However, you can still experience the beauty and savagery of the Batak region by visiting the area. It’s a powerful experience you shouldn’t miss. (Mia Kamila)