Brian Stephenson Fine Art

Indonesian Tribal Art
Batak Calendar

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Batak Karo calendar (Porhalaan) scribed on a segment of bamboo


Item-Description:Batak Karo calendar (Porhalaan) scribed on a segment of bamboo
Medium:Smoked bamboo
Origin:North Sumatra - Batak Karo
Dimensions:Length 29.5 cm, diameter 4.1 cm
Age:18th or very early 19th century
Provenance:Field collected North Sumatra 1978
Condition:Excellent, fine light brown glossy patina
Notes:The Batak calendar, also know as the Porhalaan, is derived directly from the Hindu Sanskrit calendar. It is both lunar and solar in construction, generally consisting of 12 months, each month divided into 30 days but also with an occasional 13th or leap month. For the Batak, however, the calendar is not used to tell time, but is used primarily by the Batak Priest (Datu) or Shaman for divination, to determine auspicious or non-auspicious days so that festivals, rituals and spells can be better planned. Commonly the calendar is scribed on tubes of bamboo. What is interesting is that the calendar is often accompanied by written Batak scripts, which provide advice on spells and guidance on how to interpret the calendar. .

This is an outstanding example of an old Batak Karo bamboo tube calendar or Porhalaan scribed with 30 rows (days) and 12 vertical columns (months). It also carries extensive areas of complex Batak script. It has a hole on the side at one end so that it can be hung and its dark in colour indicates that the tube was smoked during its final stages of production.

Price: £320