by Edi Nasution


We ancestor recognize the importance of chivalry or ethics in the social-interaction, so they have created ways of interacting between the fellow that is unique to the individual and kinship groups namely “baso” and “sangko”. It seems useful to maintain the harmony of social-cultural life of the Mandailing people.


Maybe you wonder if raised that the “whistler” only taboo for people Mandailing do so in the house. When their children ask: “Aso (why)?” Answer from her parents: “naron ro ulok!” (snake came later). Always the responsibility of the teenagers who discovered whistling in public will get a reprimand from adults: “Amang, naposoma ilala ho, Lian!” Once given the gift rap “tuk” at the head of the teenagers, who then went avoid a grimace in pain.


A young man who sings sitogol or ungut-ungut, also play a wind instrument tulila such as in huta (village) will get a reprimand. Could be a “swat” landed in the face by certain people who feel offended. Coupled with the reprimand: “narumo” (crotchety) or “naso marbaso” (inappropriate), and more extreme with the allegations “naso maradat” (not habitual with morality or not). However, another case with the tradition margondang, where ensemble play music gordang sambilan and gondang boru in the context of marriage ceremony (horja siriaon) for example, always at the gala held in the village.


Of course, a brief description of the interest to learn more about why ancestors Mandailing people make rules that ban to play some music in the context of social life, their culture.


“Si (da) lian” and “si ta (tar) ing”


The word “taing” is the name given Mandailing people to the “girls”, while “dalian“, or more often called the “lian” or the “dali” is only for “man-child”. Since they are small to begin by the value Mandailing culture. Although sometimes “way” used by people in applying their old cultural values that for us (“out sider”) may feel a little strange (not common). As if a boy whistling in the house always be frightened by the threat: “snake came later.”


Rules ban is very striking emphasized to their children, especially for girls. Every parent will feel ashamed if their children later seen by other community members as “alak na so mangirput”, namely people who do not have manners (ethics). Perhaps the whistle actions in cognitive is a revelation of emotional symptoms that lead to early sexual behavior. The fact that the sex is “taboo” disclosed and discussed openly in the Mandailing community. But efforts to threaten the child since early can be expected to eliminate or at least muffled misconduct is not to produce “hahaila” (shame) and also “bala” (catastrophe) day will be soon.


Relevant to the phrase “from a small left, brought large, old age can not be changed,” certainly does not want people Mandailing descendants familiar with the behaviors that are considered unethical. Including, whistling in the house is essentially an attitude that is not with morality and also not to respect their parents and brothers. Conversely, when more thought in the note that the prohibition whistling in the house was also to maintain and uphold the dignity of a person. As a prospective successor generation, the behavior of someone in the later live in a society should be based and to reflect the cultural values noble, that they always apply and protect.


Music, Ethics and Social System


Mandailing ethnic groups living in the rural coastal area west-southwest island of Sumatra has a system of cultural values that they itself as a “adat dohot ugari” (traditional and customary law). Meanwhile, to run it as a traditional life of the citizen’s activities based on the noble values that be, namely “olong dohot domu“, they create a social system called “Dalian Na Tolu” ( “three pillars”). Mandailing traditional and customary law is called “Dalian Na Tolu” because the system has a mechanism that devote their lives to the three functional elements in their kinship system, namely “mora” (grantor girls), “kahanggi” (an ancestor) and “anakboru” (recipient girls).


Realizing the three groups of kinship is functional because of the marital relationship (affinal relations) and the relationship of blood (“blood ties”) among those who have Mandailing clans as Pulungan, Lubis, Nasution, Daulae, Rangkuti, Parinduri, Matondang, Batubara and so forth. They set the system kinship through the grouping of those who have a “grandfather together” who called the “marga” (clan) and based on patrilineal. While the tradition of their fellow marriage is the “clan exogamy”, meaning that each person must be married with people outside the clan and it tends to take “boru tulang” as a wife (unilateral cross-cousin). Initiative, a proposal came from the sib men, both married and after the bridegroom generally live in villages bride men (virilokal), where the tradition as this is called “adat manjujur”.


As a system, “Dalian Na Tolu” customs to contain the paradigm of balance be maintained as one unit that intact. Therefore he (“Dalian Na Tolu”) have a normative basis in the traditional expression: “sangap marmora, elek maranakboru, manat-manat markahanggi” (mora should be respected and honored, beloved by anakboru must wholeheartedly, behave carefully among fellow kahanggi). With a tradition of “clan exogamy” that allows the status and role of each of the Mandailing people sometimes as mora, kahanggi and anakboru. So when the kinship system Mandailing be examined at all huta will show us that the system as “jala” (“net fishing”), which is increasingly reduced to the top and extends to the rags and long down. Symbolic of the reality is there on the dock called “tutup ari” in the “Sopo Godang” (Central Council of Tradition) and “Bagas Godang” (Palace of the King), in the form of hundreds of “equilateral triangle” that shape and array of beautiful (called “bindu matoga-matogu“) with the composition of colors: red, white, black and meaningful for the people in Mandailing.


All reality and cultural activities Mandailing likely be sourced from and by their cultural value system that is customary “Dalian Na Tolu” or “Markoum-Sisolkot”, so the tradition of music Mandailing as a sub-element difference is not separated from the domination of their customs that. But in the context of a process of cultural values of traditional culture in music Mandailing people at once is also the effort to maintain. For the cultural values useful to give direction and orientation in their lives.


Social life is colored by the Mandailing manners association called “baso” and “sangko”. Each individual must respect and appreciate other people for the achievement of harmony and the harmony of living among their fellow. Two members of the community that are the subject should be “baso” social ethics mutually consider and implement the customary norms and regulations. For example, my (male ego) can not talk face-to-face and long time with the mother of my wife (called “nantulang“) and speak only as necessary. And vice versa, to reduce contact between my father with my wife (called “parumaen” or “maen“) also created a tradition of “manjae” or “mangasing“, where a month after marrying, and my wife will move to new houses in the my village, or can also still close with my father home. In line with this, I stood as the “babere” also will not stand in the at-home father of my wife (referred to as “tulang” or “mora”) that no other because it concerns the customary norms “sangko”.


If “baso” violated social ethics can bring “hahaila” (shame) and “ila godang” (slur), which can reduce one’s dignity and also the folk relatives. “Baso” norm is only applicable to the different types of sex (men and women) because of the marital relationship. The “parbasoan” person (ego), among others:

1. Ego (men) against the wife of the sister / brother ego.

2. Ego (women) to the sister/brother of the husband’s ego.

3. Ego (men) to the mother of the wife of ego (“nantulang”).

4. Ego (women) against the father of the husband’s ego (“amangboru”).

5. Ego (men/women) to the sister/brother each called “mariboto” or “samarga”.


Sangko” word in the context of social ethics is more or less means “someone who should be respected and valued”. For example, we must have “sangko” against our own father (“amang” or “udak”), father sister (“amanguda”), the father’s brother (“amangtua” or “tuak”), the people who are elderly (“tobang-tobang”) because they should be considered as our parents as we must also “sangko” have to “namora-mora” (nobility) and “natoras-toras” (intellectual leader of the folk group clan), and others.


Every adult male in Mandailing, prohibited sing the song “sitogol” or “ungut-ungut” in the village in front of the public. Because the content of the lyrics of the songs generally depict the second hope, or the failure of love and livelihood of the singers (call “parende”) itself. The content of the lyrics from the song that sometimes both the seduction and frustration against a girl. Similarly, play the wind musical instruments (flute) as “tulila”, “sordam”, “salung”, “suling” (called “buni-bunian“) or play “genggong” (jaw’s harp’s). Because in addition to the usual used to persuade women, can also be used to “remove” anxiety heart (called “arsak ni roha“) that use them. One is when he may be discouraged or transfer complained of the poor. In short, personal interests do not appear to be disclosed vain in front of the public.


Although musical instruments (“buni-bunian“) is often used as a tool in time, “markusip” or “mangkusip” by a youth, but in the tradition of “markusip” (a tradition dating between young men and women in a whisper, they are limited by wall-house), which took place on the evening of that day always begins through the middle of the night and have the rule of the game apart. In the tradition “markusip”, in the middle of the night is usually the time the villagers have been sleeping soundly and musical instruments (“tulila” or “gengong“) is a little volume as possible. And the existence of “markusip” that it can not be known by the public, because it is considered unethical by the Mandailing people. A youth who will perform the activities “mangkusip”, asked what his friends, will not say that he will “mangkusip”, but with the words “mamarik-marik” (to wander back home residents) because they feel ashamed when he said the shooter to the activities that will be carried out.


A girl who play musical instruments “uyup-uyup bulung bolanda” at the time of day in the village, will do so when he felt sure that all the villagers (who are adults) have to go to work rice fields and each field, so that no one know the game music is, for a girl is taboo to reveal the emotional feelings (love) in the middle of the citizens. He will do so alone in secretly also.

Ideas reveal feelings of love through song and musical instruments equipment is taboo for people Mandailing do so in the midst of many people. Because of problems in love and sex, according to their unethical disclosed and discussed openly for the public. In the village community is the people who should be respected and valued in connection with the “baso” and “sangko” norms. When a youth is the time arrived to marry, then he can discuss his desire to certain people is usually “amangboru”. Then both parents and “kahanggi” (“suhut”) and “anakboru” negotiate to woo the girl to parents and family nearby. Ceremonies of the formal has been arranged according to their custom to up to the completion ceremony of marriage.


However, as can happen when the father of his wife (called “Mora“) is willing to help. As every husband (called “babere“) generally is to maintain and preserve dignity. In addition, as a son-in position should be “marbaso” to the mother and “sangko” to the father of his wife. Maybe these circumstances also limit the willingness of each individual in the community Mandailing to misery and sorrow are open to many people. Mandailing peoples fellow who feel obliged to remind each other about “baso” and “sangko” norms in social life. In this context, if someone wants to shed all the contents of heart or feelings (called “arsak ni roha“) through “music”, then he will go to a place of solitude in the forest, in the rice fields, in gardens or to the river bank. We can hear the “sitogol” song or the sound of music “suling” from places that quiet, but the figure of people who do not have been visible. When people play music that other people are usually surprised noise “music” immediately stop because he was feeling ashamed.


Gondang”. Reciprocity and “Olong” (Love)


When we see the music ensemble “Gordang Sambilan” and “gondang boru” is at a marriage ceremony in a “huta“, it is not difficult to guess who the person who organized “horja haroan Boru” (wedding party). That’s aristocratic family (dynasty). For example, a wedding party “anak ni raja” (the child is king) that can only last for seven days and seven nights music sounds continue. In fact, “gordang” and “gondang” was the first to differentiate “horja” (party) between the aristocratic families and ordinary people (called “alak na jaji”).


Nevertheless, the power of a king (Raja Panusunan Bulung) in Mandailing is not absolute because a large role in determining everything that concerns the interests of the people is Namora Natoras as the Traditional Leadership Mandailing representing the people (Parliament?). Any decision and discretion of the Raja Panusunan Bulung always from the results of consensus and agreement (“marpokat” called) have been implemented by the Namora Natoras with Raja Panusunan Bulung in Sopo Godang not sided, so that people can directly hear and see the process and know the results, clearly very open and democratic.


A king called the expression as “ayu ara na godang parsilaungan” (“pohon beringin”), “partalaga naso hiang” (rich), and “parsaba na bolak” (the owner of a vast area of paddy fields). Therefore, people used to always get the protection of the king, which can be requested at any time help. While the vast area of paddy fields that belong on the bottom also because the property is done collectively by the people, then the harvest gathered in the granary (“opuk eme” called) owned by the king. When people lack food, then a king at any time ready to distribute content to people’s rice barn, because “there is a king because there are people” (“marsomba di balian marsomba di bagasan”). Attiitude a king were always influence, and protect the people. In people love, respect, fame and uphold dignity of the king of them (“na ipagodang sahalana na i jujung-jujung tondina”). Therefore marriage ceremony of a child king together with the completeness of all the attributes, including “gondang” and “gordang” is the reflection of collective attitude that they need and help each other, which is always based and oriented to “olong dohot domu” (mutual love, harmonious and tight-knit).




Not a few people assume that the cultural values that many Mandailing now comes from, and influenced Islam. Also for ethnomusicologist Fumi Tamura (Ethnomusicology lecturer at the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts & Music in Japan) and into his thoughts after recording a record and some traditional music in Mandailing Tamiang and Sayurmaincat, Kotanopan, Upper Mandailing.


We often hear people outside of the opinion that “when discussing Mandailing will involve Islam” with the assumption that the majority of residents who embraces Islam obedient. This is indeed a fact that can not be finished because of the teachings of Islam it has been strong in all aspects of their lives. As a consequence of various activities of cultural heritage tradition as their ancestors have left behind is seen as contrary to the teachings of Islam; away the old system of religion (the “pelebegu”) who worship the spirits of ancestors or nature of the supernatural. So also with the traditions or rules of marriage between clans has been ignoring them , and there is a lot of marriage between clan is the same. However, culture is not a process, system thinking and dynamic nature?


The cultural values of traditional Mandailing surely not contradict with all of Islam. Thus the religion of Islam more functionality and clarify the substance of the values contained in the old part of their culture. For example, the existence of social ethics “sangko” and “baso“, may not derive from the teachings of Islam. Because when someone violates custom or habit we never hear the accusations “na so martuhan” (do not believe in god) or “na so mengingot tuhan” (do not remember the gods), but always with the allegations “na so marbaso” or “na so maradat.” With many traditional cultural values Mandailing in line with the teachings of Islam, so it is not surprising when the people in Mandailing found one expression: “adat ombar dohot ugamo“. ***



Nasution, Edi. Tulila: Muzik Bujukan Mandailing, Penang-Malaysia: Areca Books, 2007.

___, “Kesenian Tradisional Mandailing”, see

___, “Uyup-uyup na Tarsimo dari Mandailing”,  see news paper Waspada, 1991.


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