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Magic horn stopper of figure riding on a horse

late 19th century-early 20th century


Unknown Artist

  • Details

    Place where the work was made
    North Sumatra Indonesia
    Cultural origin
    Toba Batak
    late 19th century-early 20th century
    Media category
    Materials used
    figure with hair, pony tail, patina heavily encrusted with smoke as is the horse, on which it rides
    10.8 cm
    Gift of Dr Peter Elliott 2012
    Not on display
    Accession number

    Reproduction requests

  • About

    The equestrian figure is a popular motif in Batak art and ritual that is associated with ancestral worship and a safe passage to the afterlife. Large equestrian statues would mark the graves of prominent chiefs, smaller carved figures were used to adorn spirit houses, sword sheaths, granary doors and in this case act as stoppers. Such carved stoppers were made to protect the contents of containers made from an eclectic array of materials, including wood, ivory, gourd and ceramics. Imported ceramics were probably acquired by the Batak on the east coast of Sumatra and traded for a number of locally sourced commodities including ivory, wax, cotton or tobacco. The containers known amongst the Batak as ‘guriguri’ were used to store talismanic mixtures known as ‘pukpuk’ . The ‘Datu’, or spiritual leader of the community would apply the mixtures ritualistically to objects and people to imbue them with protective properties and pacify the ancestors.

    Asian Art Department, AGNSW, January 2014