Calendar Pages -- Rangsa ni Tonun:

August 20th, 2014

Rangsa ni Tonun:

Rangsa ni Tonun:0

A Siam Society Lecture in collaboration with The Thai Textile Society


Rangsa ni Tonun: 

The Sacred Batak weaving tradition - From Ancient shamanic text to contemporary film

 A Talk by Sandra Niessen

The Batak people of North Sumatra have one of the oldest weaving traditions in the Indonesian archipelago. Their weavings were believed to protect the body and the soul.
Rangsa ni Tonun is about the production of these textiles. A rangsa is a poetic genre of Batak oral literature. This one describes each step in the weaving process. The text was written down by Guru Sinangga ni Adji in 1872 at the behest of a German missionary. Today it is stored in two European archives while the oral tradition to which it belongs has since died out.
The film medium was selected for ‘translating’ the text. The film was made between 2010 and 2013, directed and filmed by MJA Nashir, a Javanese artist, and produced by Sandra Niessen, a Dutch/Canadian anthropologist. Batak villager weavers enacted the Rangsa ni Tonun narrative. The theme song is a forgotten traditional melody revived by the Medan music group, Suarasama.
In September 2013, Niessen and Nashir showed the film in Batak villages to bring Rangsa ni Tonun back to the Bataklands The film had an inspiring effect on the local culture and the weaving tradition, now in crisis and in danger of becoming extinct.
Ms. Sandra Niessen is a freelance-consulting anthropologist based in The Netherlands. In 1979 she began to study and write about the Batak cultures of North Sumatra, Indonesia, especially their weaving tradition. She has taught in Canadian universities and worked in museums in Europe and Canada. Rangsa ni Tonun (2013) is her first film. Her latest book publication, with the same title, is about the film. Her encyclopaedic volume, Legacy in cloth: Batak textiles of Indonesia (2009) about Batak textile types, including their history and techniques of production, appeared in 2009. 

DATE:    Wednesday, 20 August 2014

TIME:     7:30 p.m.

PLACE:  The Siam Society, 131 Asoke Montri Rd, Sukhumvit 21

For more information, please telephone Khun Arunsri at

(02) 661 6470-7, fax (02) 258 3491, or e-mail:

Office Hours: Tuesday – Saturday, 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.


The Siam Society Members, Members’ spouses and children, and all students showing valid student I.D. cards, are admitted free of charge -  Non-Members Donation B200.
 Thai Textile Socitey Members showing a valid membership card and are on the current membership list are admitted free of charge...  Non-Members Donation B200