Brian Stephenson Indonesian Tribal Art

Wood Sculpture
Batak Script Tube

Batak Karo bamboo script tube or Pagar

Batak Karo bamboo script tube or Pagar   Batak Karo bamboo script tube or Pagar   Batak Karo bamboo script tube or Pagar  
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Item-Description:Batak Karo bamboo script tube or Pagar
Medium:Smoked bamboo
Origin:North Sumatra - Batak Karo
Dimensions:Length 35.5 cm, diameter 4.3 cm
Age:18th or early 19th century
Provenance:Field collected North Sumatra 1978
Condition:Excellent well preserved condition, smoked, fine red-brown glossy patina
Notes:Batak script is one of the few examples of indigenous written languages that have been documented in SE Asia. The language is believed to have originated from Southern Indian Hindu scripts of the first millennium AD. The Batak produced bark books (Pustaha) but also wrote on bamboo tubes, strips and stalks and on animal bones. Most writing was religious in nature, but also recorded spells and laments and both calendar and divination instruction. For an excellent collection of Batak texts on bone and bamboo see: The Bartlett Collection, University of Michigan Museum of Anthropology (UMMA).

This is an outstanding and very well preserved example of a Batak Karo bamboo script tube carrying seven vertical columns of clear and well defined Batak script. The script could be instructions for interpreting a Batak calendar, a love poem but most likely used as an amulet or Pagar (a script hung inside the house to protect an individual against the harmful intentions of another person). It carries a small side hole at one end so the tube can be hung. It also carries a fine glossy patina indicating a considerable age. The dark colour indicates that the tube was smoked during the final stages of production.

Price: £310