Loan Object
Photo by Johan Vipper
Photo credit: Johan Vipper

Knife Handle (Pisopodong) or Amulet (Parsimboraan)

19th century

Cast and hammered brass

13 × 4 × 3 cm (5 1/8 × 1 9/16 × 1 3/16 in.) base: 4 × 4 × 5.7 cm (1 9/16 × 1 9/16 × 2 1/4 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.

Toba Batak
19th century
Tools and Equipment
Made in Sumatra, Indonesia
On view

Ex-collection: D. Manfredi, Milan; L. Lanfranchi, Milan

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.