Brian Stephenson Fine Art

Indonesian Tribal Art
Batak Magic Horn

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Carved buffalo horn and stopper used to carry medicine, magic substance or pupuk (a Naga Morsarang or Sahan)


Item-Description:Carved buffalo horn and stopper used to carry medicine, magic substance or pupuk (a Naga Morsarang or Sahan)
Medium:Water Buffalo Horn with wood stopper
Origin:North Sumatra - Batak Karo
Dimensions:Length 46 cm
Age:Early 18th possibly 17th century
Provenance:Collected Sumatra 1984
Condition:Excellent condition, no major damage, both glossy and encrusted patina
Notes:An excellent, museum quality and ornately carved Batak Karo Sahan, used by a Batak priest (Shaman) or healer to carry medicine and comprising a carved hollow water buffalo horn with carved wooden stopper. The stopper shows a Batak chief riding a horned Singa with a second carved face below. The horn is intricately carved on its crest along its entire length. The tip shows a Batak priest (Shaman) or Ducan, sat in typical hunkered pose with hands clasped in front of the knees and with fingers interlocked, the tip itself forming a tall conical hat. Below this are two opposed faces, then two opposed male priest like figures, again sat in a hunkered pose, the lowest with a snake emerging from his forehead. The horn caries two sets of holes along its crest which would have originally been used to thread a line of cord so that the Sahan could have been carried over the Ducanís shoulder. The stopper is attached to the horn with a single wooden pin (new, the original having been lost).

Sahan were used by Batak priest (Shamen) or healers to carry medicine, magic substance or pupuk, the symbolism on the Sahan indicating the strength and power of the substance it contained. By its style and patina, this Sahan is a very old example, probably 18th or even 17th century in age and unusual in coming from the Batak Karo rather than Toba tribe. A very collectable and a high quality piece.

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