The six Batak group are living in the province of North Sumatra. They are composed of the Toba, Karo, Pakpak, Angkola, Simalungun and Mandailing. All originate from the Samosir peninsula and the banks of the Toba lake.
The artefacts shown in the exhibition testify of a complex culture, which differs from one group to another. They are related to several precise rituals led by the datu.
The Batak people have built beautiful houses, carved ritual objects as well as produced everyday material culture. They also are virtuoso weavers. But beyond the first impression, these productions require a careful reading, which reveals a “mise en abyme” and a great attention to details.
Several objects remain today orphans of their original precise function. Thus, it is difficult to define with certainty whether an object belonged more to the domain of the World of the Dead rather than to protection or to the datu rites.
It is also difficult to attribute the works to a precise period as the inventory number only indicates the date of their accession. However it possible to presume that all the works presented here can be dated either from the 19th c. or the beginning of the 20th century. Some are perhaps more ancients. Today, the Batak are christianised (Toba, Karo) or islamised (Angkola, Mandailing). Engaged in the modern world, they have kept a strong cultural identity, notably through their fascinating art productions.
The VCM only presents a selection of the exhibition objects.