A Batak Ancestor hilt
Indonesia, Sumatra – Batak people, 19th century
Materials: Horn (Bubalus arnee bubalis)
The Batak people of North Sumatra is a collection of names for the different tribes who live in Sumatra. Among them are the Toba, Simalungun, PakPak, Karo, Angkola and the Mandailing. The Batak in general have an old and large cultural development including art, spirituality and the art of war. The Batak have a strong believe in ancestral spirits and are guided by priests called ‘Datu’ who are skilled in shamanic rituals using staffs, books, scripts and swords. The latter is a typical example worn by ‘Datu’ and is locally named ‘Piso Sanalenggam’ ,which can be literally translated as ‘handheld sword‘ or ‘handfull’. These swords are often provided with ancestral figure hilts carved of horn.
A fine example can be seen here. Depicting a kneeling ancestor with traditional clothes and hat. Carved of ‘Carabao’ horn and with great attention for detail such as the dress and hat. The facial expression can be typically attributed to the Batak art style.
Condition: Excellent, small superficial crack due to age.
Provenance: Former ‘Pijpmuseum Amsterdam’
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