In Sumatra, as in other Indonesian islands, the ethnic multiciply has led to the development of a great variety of  textile traditions  with many different patterns and production techniques.

Over centuries textiles have been most important, distinguishing their wearers by region and with respect to wealth,  status or hierarchical rank, sex as well as age group. They have also played a key role as valuable exchange goods. Being an essential part of the family heirloom they were carefully kept to be passed on to the descendants. Until today they are worn at many ceremonies and at most of the social gatherings. 

Due to its position on major sea trade routes, Sumatra additionally presents strong caracteristics based on Arab, Indian or Chinese influences.    

In a conference, in March 2014, Lesley Pullen. born in Medan, North Sumatra, has described well the history and the specificities of the Sumatra traditional textiles (site).

The Batak textiles shown below have been handmade before or in the 70's-80's.

Songket, tubular skirt, Lampung area

North Sumatra.

Minangkabau (west Sumatra) embroidery scarf purchased in Padang in the 70's

Ulos are the most common traditional textiles of the Batak people in North Sumatra.  Their use is  multiple associated with a great number of beliefs (site).

West and South Sumatra.


Traditional Pasemah shoulder cloth

19th C. Tampan  - kain kapal - ceremonial textiles (see)

Two quite similar Batak blue  Sibolang Ulos (site

A very Rich cultural Heritage, 

Antiques and Art in Indonesia