Male protective figure (pagar)

Toba Batak peoples
late 19th century
more object details

General Description

Most pagar, or protective figures, are depicted in a squatting position above containers for magic potions, or puk-puk; however, this figure appears in a rare standing position beneath its container, which takes the form of an extraordinarily high crown or headdress. Magically effective ingredients, such as leaves and animal bones, are held in place by fine rattan slats tightly wound with fiber cord. In addition to the figure’s headdress, a square hole in the chest provided a cavity for the insertion of more magical ingredients.

The wear on this well-fed figure, in addition to its rich patina, suggests that it was an especially revered and potent figure used over many generations.

Excerpt from

Roslyn A. Walker, Label text, 2013.