In northern Sumatra: the Batak

This exhibition catalogue has been put together to enable the general public to discover the art of a people that was cut off from the West for a long time. The Batak are made up of several ethnic groups and they live to the north of the island of Sumatra, in a mountainous region riven with craggy valleys.

Profoundly steeped in their ancestral customs as they are, the Batak produced a great many artefacts that are connected with their ritual practises and their everyday lives, which are woven into a complex system of exchange.  Their artists pay attention to the detail in the small-size works, and also demonstrate a refined feeling for ornamentation in the monumental pieces.  They are masters at working in wood and can skilfully combine intricate carving with relief work, but they also make splendid sculptures in stone.  Most of these artworks have come from the former collection in the Barbier-Mueller museum in Geneva, whose ‘Insulinde’ collection the Quai Branly Museum acquired in 2001.  A selection of artefacts from the 19th and 20th century from the musée de l’Homme rounds off this exhibition.


96 pages in 20 cm x 26 cm format

ca. 124 illustrations

price : 11 €

isbn 978-2-915133-47-9

A co-publication by the musée du quai Branly/Éditions 5 Continents

buy this catalogue online

exhibition curators

Pieter Ter Keurs, head curator for Insulinde in the  Volkenkunde Museum of Leiden and Constance de Monbrison, curator for the Insulinde collections in the Quai Branly Museum.

more information

Click here to discover the exposition.