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Debata Idup

by Micha F. Lindemans
"The living god". Debata Idup occupied a major place in Batak belief and ritual. He was first of all a representative of the supreme god, Si Mulajadi na Bolon. He himself was one of the Si Laon na Bolon, the group of mythical ancestors. Moreover he was often depicted, usually as a carved wooden effigy. These depictions could either be masculine of feminine, each having a special protective role depending on the problem facing the marga, the village or even the family. Every one of those protective roles of Debata Idup was known by a distinctive name: Pagar permene, Pagar parorot, Pagar panutupi (pagar, lit: hedge, "protector"). Such a wooden effigy could be used as a Pangulu Balang or protector once the Datu had endowed it with the vital force either by fertilization through incorporation of a certain substance called pupuk or through performing another ritual.

The Debata Idup could be called upon for more personal problems such as curing sterility in women. It was he who supposedly gave them the vital spark to unborn women in the womb. In such case the male and female characteristics of the god were invoked simultaneously, their effigies being worn and worshipped by the husband and wife respectively in a prescribed ritual.

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