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Loan Object
Photo by Johan Vipper
Photo credit: Johan Vipper

Medicine Horn (Naga Morsarang)

19th century

Buffalo horn and wood, with hair, rattan, and resin

50 × 42.5 × 7 cm (19 11/16 × 16 3/4 × 2 3/4 in.) base: 25 × 10 × 14 cm (9 13/16 × 3 15/16 × 5 1/2 in.)
Promised gift of Thomas Jaffe, B.A. 1971
ILE2012.30.228

Along with the staff and book, the medicine horn was an essential part of the priest’s toolkit. He carved it himself and used it as a container for protective medicine. Unlike the staff, which could be used as an aggressive magical weapon, the horn was only used for defensive magic.

 

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.

Geography: 
Made in Sumatra, Indonesia
Status: 
On view*
Culture: 
Batak
Period: 
19th century
Classification: 
Containers - Other
Provenance: 

Ex-collection: P. Quimiot, Brussels; John A. Friede, New York.

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.