In North Sumatra

The Batak


Consisting of several ethnic groups, the Batak people live in the north of the island of Sumatra in a mountainous region carved out of steep valleys. The exhibition presents a selection of objects from this complex culture involving many rituals, supervised by the datu, magician-priest and the master of ceremonies.

Deeply infused with ancestral customs, the Batak produce many objects associated with their ritual practices and their daily existence. While attentive to detail in small works, artists also show a keen sense of ornamentation when it comes to monumental works.

Masters at woodwork, skillfully interweaving and layering different forms, they are also great stone carvers. From everyday items to ritual objects, the exhibition draws the eye to the mise en abyme of motifs, inverted figures and the meticulous treatment of twisting lines.

  • Exhibition curators: Mr. Peter Ter Keurs, Insulindia Curator at the National Museum of Ethnology, Leiden ; Mrs Constance de Monbrison, Head of the Insulindia collections at the musée du quai Branly—Jacques Chirac
  • Number of works: 87
  • Surface area required: 350 m²
  • Catalogue of the exhibition available, English and French versions (96 pages, Co-published by musée du quai Branly - Jacques Chirac/Éditions 5 Continents, 2008)

This exhibition has been presented at:

  • musée du quai Branly – Jacques Chirac,from February 19th to May 11st 2008
  • Château de Sédières, France, from June 13rd to October 3rd 2010

The exhibition in pictures

  • Vue de l'exposition
  • Vue de l'exposition
  • Vue de l'exposition
  • Vue de l'exposition
  • Vue de l'exposition
  • Livre de divination
  • Sommet de bâton de magicien
  • Corne rituelle

Paris, 2008

Paris, 2008

© musée du quai Branly - Jacques Chirac, photo Antoine Schneck