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Sigale-gale from the Land of Toba


Sigale-gale from the Land of Toba

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Sigale-gale kekayaan budaya Samosir.(ist)
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SAMOSIR, – At first glance it looks like an adult human with eyes emitting an empty stare without meaning. On the shoulder of the sculpted body is slung with ulos, a woven cloth typical of the Batak tribe.

His blonde hair was pinned up in sorta, a sort of head covering. When the sound of the beat of the gondang, a large long-horned drum, begins to be played, suddenly the stiff body begins to move to the rhythm of the music.

He is a sigale-gale, a unique wooden doll from Tomok Village on Samosir Island in the middle of Lake Toba in North Sumatra. The brown wooden puppets are an important part of the folk performances in Tomok.

Sigale-gale comes from the word gale which in the Toba Batak language means graceful. In order to be able to stand upright, the sigale-gale is placed on a rectangular wooden podium.

The function of the wooden podium is as a passageway for crossing ropes that can make this wooden doll move as if it were dancing.

A dalang will control the rigging so that the sigale-gale can move flexibly. Like the nervous system and body joints in humans, the ropes connect the sigale-gale body parts starting from the head, neck, arms and palms.

At first glance, the braided rope looks complicated, its position is disguised by the traditional Batak Toba clothes worn by sigale-gale and a wooden podium. Sigale-gale is usually accompanied by a tor-tor dance in which one of the characteristics of the movement is to place your palms together towards your chest and move them up and down in front of you repeatedly.

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According to the Kamus Budaya Batak Toba by MA Marbun and IMT Hutapea, sigale-gale is always played with gondang music and tor-tor dance accompaniment during the papurpur sapata ceremony. Like the ritual of rejecting reinforcements, papurpur sapata is played when there is death and aims to keep the family or relatives left behind to be entertained or to provide solace.

Rayani Sriwidodo in her book Si Gale-Gale: Dongeng Rakyat Tapanuli said that this wooden doll was made and played when the person who died had no children. Initially, the existence of sigale-gale was a folklore that was passed down from generation to generation and had roots with the Batak people as a local wisdom.

For the people of Lake Toba, sigale-gale is synonymous with the story of remembering Manggale, a figure highly respected by the Batak Toba people because of his prowess in leading wars. He is the only son of Raja Rahat, ruler of Samosir. Until one day, Manggale was sent by his father to expel soldiers from a neighboring kingdom.

But unfortunately, Manggale died on the battlefield and made Raja Rahat feel a tremendous loss. All the people are saddened by the death of the heir to the throne of Raja Rahat. Therefore, the best sculptor in the kingdom was sought to make a wooden statue whose characteristics were made similar to Manggale.

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In fact, the Manggale spirit is also inserted into the statue which is called sigale-gale. So that when King Rahat missed Manggale, he would invite the statue to dance the torso and all his people would participate in this activity, in memory of Manggale. To this day it is not known exactly when the performing art of sigale-gale began on Samosir Island.

As written by Sandy Situmorang in the Seri Pengenalan Budaya Nusantara: Misteri Patung Sigale-gale, it is stated that the statue was actually first made by King Gaius Rumahorbo who lived in Garoga Village near Tomok in 1930. Remarkably, the sigale-gale doll made by King Gaius at that time could emit tears and can wipe the ulos that is girded on his shoulder.

However, whatever the story, the sigale-gale doll has given its own color to the development of the arts and traditions of the people in the Lake Toba area, especially in Tomok Village, Samosir, and is always shown at every tourist visit and local cultural festival.***

Article by Anton Setiawan, from
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