Guardian sentinel

Toba Batak peoples
late 19th century
more object details

General Description

Carved guardian figures are distinguished by the cavities in their chests, abdominal area, and other parts of the body into which puk-puk, a magically effective ingredient, was inserted. The filled cavities were closed with a covering made of wood or metal that was glued or nailed. At times, they were also sealed with a dollop of tree resin. In addition to the empty cavity, this figure has two that are plugged, one over the right ear and the other in the abdominal area.

A spoon is attached to the base area with ijuk cord. The spoon was used to offer food and beverage sacrifices in order to assure the lasting efficacy and power of the sculpture. Traces of abrasion to the mouth and chest resulted from ritual feeding, indicating that this figure enjoyed great attention and esteem over a long period of time.

Excerpt from

Roslyn A. Walker, Label text, 2013.