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Amulet on chain for bag


Unknown Artist


The Batak people of North Sumatra inhabit the mountainous interior region centring round Lake Toba. The lake and Samosir Island on the lake are at the heart of Batak activities and culture. Aside from the Toba group, the Batak identify themselves as belonging to six other distinct communities. The Pakpak and Dairi Batak live west of the lake, the Karo are north-west and the Simalungun are east of the lake. The Angkola and Mandailing Batak who do not share their borders with the lake are further south and in closer proximity to the Indian Ocean. Whilst the Batak have long maintained trading links with coastal communities, especially along the Strait of Malacca,their relative isolation meant that they did not experience direct contact with Europeans until the mid 19th century when they were introduced to Christianity by Dutch missionaries. Whilst most Batak villagers converted to the new monotheistic religion they never entirely abandoned their pre-Christian animist cosmologies and as a result some interesting and syncretic religious practises were established.

Unlike gold which was mined locally within the Batak or surrounding regions the brass and bronze alloys were acquired through trade in the coastal towns and was handled by the brass-caster who possessed a unique set of skills. This speciality practise was most common amongst the Toba Batak. Cast in brass using the lost wax technique this amulet features the mythical 'Singa' creature.

Asian Art Department, AGNSW, April 2015


Place where the work was made

North Sumatra Indonesia

Cultural origin

Toba Batak

Materials used



31.0 cm


Christopher Worrall Wilson Bequest 2010


Not on display

Accession number