Vintage Horn powder flasks from Sumatra
SYMBOLS OF GREAT POWER
This striking set of traditional flasks called Parpanggalahan was hand carved by Toba Batak artisans on North Sumatra in Indonesia sometime during the 1960's. It's the only set of its kind in our collection today.
The Toba Batak were skilled in using a wide assortment of weapons and firearms. By the eighteenth century they locally manufactured gunpowder from melted down sulphur mixed with powdered charcoal, saltpetre and lime extract. They then added shredded leaves collected during thunderstorms and herbs harvested during an earthquake. These powerful materials would increase the gunpowder’s efficacy by giving it the power of the strong elemental forces. The tribe chiefs used to carry their personal gunpowder in containers carved out of water buffalo horn.
The Toba Batak is one of six groups among the Batak people of northern Sumatra, living in the highlands surrounding Lake Toba. Although almost all Batak are Christian or Muslim today, in the past they used to believe in a variety of supernatural beings, including deities, ancestors, and malevolent spirits.
Dimensions: each bottle is 40 x 15 x 15cm with the metal supports