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Loan Object
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Photo by Johan Vipper
Photo credit: Johan Vipper
PrevNext2 of 2
Photo by Johan Vipper
Photo credit: Johan Vipper

Sword (Piso Podang)

18th–19th century

Steel and wood, with ceramic, brass chain, cloth, fur, and resin

31 1/8 × 6 5/16 × 1 15/16 in. (79 × 16 × 5 cm)
base: 6 11/16 × 4 5/16 × 5 1/2 in. (17 × 11 × 14 cm)
Promised gift of Thomas Jaffe, B.A. 1971

The hilt of this sword has bits of cloth, two small ceramic containers, and other materials attached to it for magic protection.


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
Arms and Armor

Ex-collection: A. Plowright, Paris

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.