north Sumatra: the Batak

18 February – 16 May 2007

The public is invited to discover a collection of remarkable artefacts created by a people long cut off from contact with the West: the Batak. Deeply immersed in ancestral customs connected to the mythology of the beginnings of things and to natural forces, the Batak live in the north of the island of Sumatra, in a mountainous region cut through by steep valleys. The works on display (acquired from the former Barbier-Mueller collection in Geneva) give a fascinating glimpse of daily life among the Batak: living conditions, rituals, and items fashioned for everyday use items. Highly finished works, created with an evident care for ornamentation, the artefacts in the exhibition invite the visitor to lose himself in the intricacy of their detail, to share in the secrets they contain.


Pieter Ter Keurs, conservateur de l’Insulinde au musée National d’Ethnologie de Leiden.
Constance de Monbrison, responsable des collections Insulinde au musée du quai Branly.


Peter Horree
Tassilo Adam


In northern Sumatra: the Batak, edited by Pieter Ter Keurs, 96 pages, Musée du quai Branly/5 Continents co-publication

sommet de bâton de magicien © musée du quai Branly photo Patrick Gries
petit couteau avec manche et fourreau © musée du quai Branly photo Patrick Gries
ornement d'architecture © musée du quai Branly photo Patrick Gries