Tracing Religious History in Barus Mantras
President Joko Widodo’s Inauguration of the Nusantara Islamic Civilization Kilometer Zero Monument on March 24, 2017, confirmed Barus, North Sumatra, as Islam’s first entry point into the Indonesian archipelago (Nusantara), replacing Pasai and Peureulak in Aceh.
It was recently discovered that Barus had performed trade in medicinal supplies with the Arabs, Chinese, Indians and perhaps even Jews long before the arrival of Islam and Christianity on the western coast of Sumatra. Traces of these early interactions can be found in the Pustaha-Pustaha Batak, holy book of the local religion, Sipele Sumangot.
In his medical anthropology research in Barus, Rusmin Tumanggor, medical anthropology professor at the...