Medicine vessel

Batak culture, Sumatra island, Indonesia. Wood, bone, and buffalo horn. Hand-crafted in the clan workshop of Usman, tribal elder and master craftsman. Traditionally used for keeping plant substances used in healing and ritual.

The indigenous people of Toba, the spectacular crater lake of Indonesia's northernmost island, still believe in their ancient mythology and customs. When a Batak man or woman goes trekking high in the primordial rain forest, they hunt and gather natural materials like honey, feather, bamboo and herbs to bring back to their village on the shore of the lake. These may include power substances full of aminist spirit and given to the peole for medicine and ceremony.

Ceremonial vessels for storing ashes, bodes, umbilical cords, etc. are found in various cultures, but the Batak medicine boxes deserve a special category since they keep their contents active and potent. These may be compared to the magical seed pots of the American Southwest or the seed baskets of the Ifugao tribe of the Philippines that ensure the generative power of the seeds between seasons.

Medicine boxes were traditionally made of whole buffalo horn and rare instances, bronze, but the finest examples today are fashioned from bamboo, wood, bone and carved horn. The tops are surmounted by a noble Batak man riding the mythological singha, part horse and part dragon. The body of the vessel is etched with esoteric symbols, a dynamic diagram of two serpents, and the perlalahan, a calendar of auspicious days. A ritual shaman presides over the contents of the chamber.

buffalo horn and carved wood
H. 10" W. 3"
Batak culture
$145. - SOLD, but we may be able to find something similar. Please inquire.