Batak - Settlements

Village size varies greatly by subsociety: some Toba rice-farming villages have only 4 or 5 houses, while some Mandailing and Angkola villages have 100 to 200 houses. Market towns dot the highlands too, serving as hubs for large numbers of mountain villages. In Karo and Toba, some traditional villages remain, with Great Houses (carved, high-peaked, adat houses, for several families linked through clanship and marriage alliance). More common today are Malay-style houses, divided into rooms and roofed with zinc, not thatch. Throughout the Batak areas the "complete" village is both a small model of the cosmos and a replica of the entire social order, with all its requisite interlocking parts. These consist of the village founders and their close lineage mates, their traditional wife givers (who have provided the founders with brides and blessings over many generations), and their traditional wife receivers, who marry the founders' daughters and provide the village with labor services and physical protection. Cosmic as well as social order is maintained, it is thought, if all three partners mutually support each other and keep the "flow of blessings" circulating through human society and the agricultural realm. Similar patterns of thought are found throughout eastern Indonesia.

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