Ulos is the traditional textile of the Batak people of North Sumatra. In this region Ulos means blanket, where people here in the past used ulos mostly as a blanket or shoulder cloth (for a smaller ulos), to keep themselves warm as the Bataks usually live in the mountains part of the land, and the temperature usually slightly colder up the hills. Different types of ulos have different ceremonial significance. The ulos is normally worn draped over the shoulders or for the larger ulos, they are used as a sarong, or dress for a woman. The Bataks don’t wear ulos every day, they are usually worn or used for ceremonial purposes, such as a wedding, funeral, birth or religious related events. Most Ulos are traditionally hand woven, but the designs and colour of ulos are evolving with times. Ulos that are vintage or antique proofed to have better quality, and they are normally left to the recipients as heirlooms.

Today ulos are being produced in bright colours and they are used for many different things, including fashion apparel, but dark ones such as large Ragi Hidup, Sibolang, Sirara, and many other primary Ulos are still made in the same dark colours and design. Quality of ulos made today are varied, depending on how they are produced. Ulos can be made to order, and some are mass produced using ATBM (Alat tenun Bukan Mesin), the shaft loom. Check out all our other Ulos collections to see many varieties available.

On this occasion, we are presenting to you, the Ulos Batak “Sibolang”. Ulos Sibolang comes in many different ikat patterns, but geometrically designed more or less similar to one another. The colour is usually light indigo ikat patterns on a black background. The ikat pattern on Sibolang, like on many other Batak Ulos are never pictorials, the ikat patterns are usually fairly simple but very fine and complicated to produce.

Ulos Sibolang culturally represents somber events in the Batak people’s lives, but in today’s modern societies, Sibolang should really represent happier events and the pattern and colour should be applied on other types of fabrics, such as silk or linen. With the popularity of indigo natural dye is soaring, Sibolang should have a better place in our modern society.

We are proud to share with you some amazing images of one of Ulos Sibolang designs model by Dr Ria Novida Telaumbanua, a medical doctor who is also ikat collector.  This type of Sibolang design is now rare and should be produced to match the quality of our old Ulos Batak.  It is very sad that the Bataks have slowly moved to embrace cheaply produced Ulos, made from synthetically dyed yarns and often mass-produced in factories or in weaving houses using ATBM (shaft looms weaving tools), to meet the high demand. 

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