Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.

Battaplural Battak

Batta (plural Battak), a large non-Malay nation of North Sumatra belonging to the same widespread Indonesian stock as the Lampongs of South Sumatra, the neighbouring Mentawey islanders, the Bornean Dyaks and the Bisayas of the Philippines. Like all Indonesians they approach the Caucasic (European) type in their regular features, large straight eyes, full beard, and relatively light complexion. Like them also they speak a Malayo-Polynesian dialect, which betrays Hindu influences both in the presence of numerous Sanskrit and Pali words, and in the use of an alphabet derived from the Dewanagari of the Asoka inscriptions. Their chiefs also bear the Indian title of raja, and the name Batta applied to them by the Malays appears to be the Sanskrit Bhata, "wild or "barbarous." This name, unknown to the people themselves, is still justified by their savage customs and cannibal practices, which they have preserved under an outer varnish of Hindu culture. Human flesh, however, which is always eaten raw, is now reserved for special occasions, and is chiefly supplied, not by raiding, as formerly, but by their own criminals condemned to death. The Batta territory extends from the equator to about lat. 3° N., but nowhere reaches the sea, all the coast lands being held by peoples of Malay race. Akin to the Battak are the Orang-Lubu, Orang-Kubu, Orang-Abung and others scattered over the interior of Central Sumatra.