Ulos is the traditional cloth of the Batak people of North Sumatera, Indonesia. Different kinds of Ulos have different ceremonial significance. Usually worn draped over the shoulder or shoulders of the wearer, or in weddings to bind the bride and groom together ceremonially. Ulos are traditionally hand woven and in the case of higher-quality examples are essential family heirlooms, worn at important events, such as funerals and weddings.
Modernisation has declined its significance, with many varieties no longer in demand. According to the Batak people, there are three sources of warmth for humans; the sun, fire, and Ulos. The Batak were living in cold mountain area, and the natural condition makes sunlight insufficient to give warmth especially at night, so it is natural for Ulos to be the source of warmth. Ulos is also the symbol of bravery amongst the men and fertility strength for the women.
At first, Ulos was just an ordinary cloth but later developed into a symbol of love, traditional ceremony requirements, and society structural system symbol. Even today, Ulos is believed to have magical religious power and considered ‘sacred’ and has extraordinary ability to protect the user.
Ulos has many motives, which have their respective meaning by the characteristic, condition, function, and some relation. When it is used given to whom, and which traditional ceremony like a wedding, birth, death and other rituals will never be performed without Ulos.
Ulos is made with a manual loom machine. A spinner called Sorha, it is used to make cotton into yarns. Pamanggung is used to tie yarns. Pagabe to hold the yarns. Baliga, used to organize yarns. Hatalungan is used to separate yarns. Pamapan used to make the yarn into cloth. Palabuan (Periuk Tanah) is used for saving coloring water. Ulos made of cotton and the coloring water made of barks, grass, roots, mud or leaves.
By Wulung Damardoto