Loan Object

Puppet (Si Gale Gale)

18th–19th century

Wood with string

36 1/4 × 5 1/8 × 4 3/4 in. (92 × 13 × 12 cm)
base: 6 11/16 × 6 11/16 × 2 3/8 in. (17 × 17 × 6 cm)
Promised gift of Thomas Jaffe, B.A. 1971

Puppets were made to appease the spirits of people who died without descendants to bring them offerings. In ritual performances, they simulated the mourners’ actions by dancing and weeping.

The Batak of northern Sumatra comprise six groups: the Toba, Mandaling, Angkola, Pakpak/Dairi, Simalingun, and Karo. All share a common origin myth and ancestor (Si Raja Batak), have similar kinship and marriage customs, employ a common language and script, and emphasize certain ritual practices. Until the mid-twentieth century, political power was in the hands of chiefs and the council of elders, while spiritual power resided with the priest (datu), who had great influence on Batak life.

Made in Sumatra, Indonesia
On view
Toba Batak
18th–19th century

Ex-collection: J. Friede, Rye, NY; Count B. de Grunne, Brussels

Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of such records is ongoing.