Batak figure from Sumatra
A SYMBOL OF POWER AND SPIRITUALITY
This striking wooden statue was hand carved by Batak artisans on North Sumatra, made in a special wood that symbolizes the tree of life and a flowing ponytail of horse hair. It was originally made as the decorative top of of a ritual staff.
The Batak are one of the largest indigenous groups in Indonesia, located in the mountainous highlands of northern Sumatra. Their culture is incredibly rich with a history reaching back to antiquity.
The most powerful members of a Batak community are ritual specialists, known as datu. They are experts in religion, and are most often members of the village’s founding family. These specialists, who are exclusively male, are able to cure the sick, contact the spirits of the dead, and predict auspicious days for particular events. A datu‘s most important possession is his ritual staff. Each datu is required to create his own, so they vary widely in their style and shape. The type of ritual staff this statue was made for is called, tungkot malehat, which traditionally have a single wooden or metal figure at the top.
Dimensions: 29 x 7 x 6cm with the metal support