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Loan Object
Photo by Johan Vipper
Photo credit: Johan Vipper

Container with Magic Writing

19th century


24 × 4.5 cm (9 7/16 × 1 3/4 in.) base: 6 × 6 × 13 cm (2 3/8 × 2 3/8 × 5 1/8 in.)
Promised gift of Thomas Jaffe, B.A. 1971

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
19th century
Ritual Objects

Ex-collection: R. Burawoy, 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.