Sigale Gale – When we speak of customs and culture, there is one culture that we may have seen but do not know what it’s called, or already know its name but do not yet know where it came from or there may be some who are very familiar with this one culture. Yes, sigale-gale name, a dancing doll that can even shed tears is said to be very mystical and can move with certain rituals with the aim of summoning spirits who have died. This is a dance that originated in northern Sumatra.

Sigale Gale
Sigale Gale

The History of Sigale-gale
Sigale-gale is a dance that originated from the Samosir region of northern Sumatra, this dance is a dance performed by statues or human-shaped puppets, almost like a puppet show commonly found in Java. This sculpture is also moved by a puppeteer with the accompaniment of traditional musical instruments . This sigale-gale doll is made of wood and modified in such a way using ropes that connect the joints so that it can be moved from behind or from other places. In the past sigale-gale dance was performed for certain activities but now sigale-gale is more staged to attract tourist visits.

In the past it was said that the manufacture of sigale-gale creators had to be able to unite their souls with wooden dolls they made so that they could move like humans who were still alive. The sigale-gale art is estimated to have existed since 400 years ago, this story begins with the story that in Samosir’s heart there was a king who had a son that he loved. According to the Batak people in each huta / village has a leader called the King in accordance with the territory based on the clan, for example the Silalahi clan, then in the area that is in charge is the king silalai, so with other clans. As in other areas, so in Samosir, the kings always fight for territory by way of resistance and war. Call it a king from the Samosir area ordered his son named Manggale to fight to seize the area around him, unexpectedly in the battle manggale was killed. While he is the only child of the King’s descendants.

Knowing the incident, the King was sad and devastated. Remembering that his son the Manggale was the only heir to the king’s descendant but died in battle. Because of continuing to think of his son who died in battle finally the King fell ill because he thought that he had no offspring who could later replace the king. From time to time the King’s illness became increasingly critical and there was no hope of survival. The King’s advisors also gathered and had a meeting to discuss the King’s recovery in order to be able to lead the kingdom again, all medicines had been given to cure the King’s illness. Considering the king had not yet recovered the royal advisors had the idea of ​​calling Datu (shaman) to make a wooden statue that resembled Manggale’s face so that the king could recover from his illness immediately.

To fulfill the royal request, the Datu went to the forest to take certain wood and carve a statue resembling the face of the king’s son Manggale. After the statue was finished, the elders and advisors of the kingdom departed for the forest where the statue was carved. A ritual ceremony led by the Datu was carried out, blowing Sordam and calling the king’s son’s spirit to enter the finished statue which resembled Manggale. Then the statue was carried to the kingdom while the Gondang Sabangunan ceremony was held. When the group arrived at the royal palace, saw a statue that resembled his son, the king was spontaneously cured of his illness. Finally, the King could once again lead the Kingdom to see the statue exactly like the face of the son of the Manggale.

The statue or doll of the Gale-Gale is made of wood which is carved to exactly resemble human appearance. The Gale-Gale doll is decorated with Samosir Batak traditional clothes complete with ulos cloth which is wrapped around the doll’s shoulders. Ulos or often also called ulos cloth is one of the typical clothes of Indonesia, especially from Samosir. Ulos cloth is hereditary developed by the Batak community, Sumatra. From its native language, the word ulos means cloth. Mangulosi is a traditional activity that is very important for the Batak people. In every activity such as marriage ceremonies, births, and grief ulos always become part of the custom that is always included. Ulos cloth color has a different meaning and function. One type of ulos cloth is Ulos Antakantak namely Ulos which is used as a shawl of an old man to mourn a deceased person, besides that the ulos is also used as a cloth wrapped around the manortor (dancing) event.

As a musical instrument, the gondang is often referred to as the Batak gondang. Gondang Batak is often identified with gondang sabangunan or ogling sabangunan and sometimes also identified with taganing (one of the musical instruments contained in the gondang sabangunan). From that understanding, another Batak musical instrument called the gondang hasapi or known as the fingers is considered as not a Batak gondang. Though the tool also includes the Batak gondang. Gondang sabangunan and gondang hasapi are used in ceremonies relating to religion, customs and other ceremonial ceremonies.

The function of the Gale-Gale
Used at the time of the death ceremony called saur matua, which is parents who have grandchildren. Usually the ceremony is carried out in two stages with parts, namely:

  1. The ceremony in jabu (inside the house) including the ceremony in jabu leading to the yard called maralaman
  2. The maralaman ceremony (on the lawn), at the time of the home page, a dance is performed using the Gale-Gale bonecation before delivering the body to the grave.

The purpose or function of the Gale-Gale puppet is to accompany the papurpus sabata ceremony, which is the death ceremony of the Samosir Batak family. At that time, it was believed that the Gale-Gale doll was a substitute for the boy in the Batak family if there were no boys in the family. The Samosir community believes that boys in the family will deliver their family spirits to the spirit realm when they die.

At present, sigale-gale has become a tourism icon in North Sumatra Province in general, and Samosir in particular. There are still some remains of the statue that was carved decades ago. We can still see the remnants of their appearance even though they are very rare. If you want to watch traditional performances from the Batak Land, go to Samosir. There are four gale-gale performances, two of which are easily accessible, namely the Tomok village and the Hutabolon Simanindo Museum. Visitors can order Sigale-gale performances directly for a fee.

Previously sigale-gale functioned for ritual but now sigale-gale is danced more to attract tourists and as one of the cultural heritage of our ancestors’ obligation as the next generation to preserve it.

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