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X65.8018 Calendrical/divination device


Object Name: Calendrical/divination device
Cultural Group: Batak peoples
Place of Origin: Sumatra, Indonesia
Date: 19th-early 20th century
Materials Used: Bone and pigment
Dimensions: L: 37.5 cm, W: 4.5 cm, H: 5.0 cm (L: 14.7 in, W: 1.7 in, H: 1.9 in)
Credit line and Accession Number: Gift of the Wellcome Trust. X65.8018

Batak priests (datu) inscribed sacred texts on sheets of bark, bamboo cylinders, and the rib bones of water buffalo. These writings-magic formulas, oracles, recipes for medicines, and instructions for rituals and cures-were passed from generation to generation within a priestly class. Inscriptions on rib bones often contain calendrical information used by priests to divine auspicious days for particular activities. The bones also brought good luck to their owners. The beauty of the script and the poetic language were both appreciated.

Gallery Text, Intersections: World Arts, Local Lives, 2006

SKU: X65.8018 Category:

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