A very large carved wooden helmet mask from the Batak people of Sumatra, Indonesia. The Batak people of northern Sumatra wear masks, which are also connected to the cult of the dead and funeral rites. Batak is a collective term used to identify a number of ethnic groups predominantly found in North Sumatra, Indonesia. North Sumatra, Toba people typically assert their identity as'Batak', while other'Batak' may explicitly reject that label, preferring instead to identify as specifically'Mandailing' and'Karo' people. The Batak are often considered to be isolated peoples thanks to their location inland, away from the influence of seafaring European colonials.
Batak societies are patriarchally organized along clans known as Marga. A traditional belief among the Toba Batak is that they originate from one ancestor "Si Raja Batak", with all Margas descended from him. A family tree that defines the father-son relationship among Batak people is called tarombo. At death the tendi leaves the human body through the fontanelle and the "death-soul" (begu) is set free. It is thought that the tendi vanishes and after the death of any human being only the begu continues to exist.The Batak believe that the begu continue to live near their previous dwelling (in a village of the dead which is thought to be situated not far from the cemetery) and that they may contact their descendants. Ad dreams, particular misfortune and such like may be signs that the begu of an ancestor is not satisfied with the behavior of its descendants. Any individual can attempt to pacify an enraged begu by means of food and drink offerings and prayers. If this does not work, a datu or a guru must be called in. The begu are not immortal, since death also rules in the land of the dead: a begu dies seven times before it is changed into a straw and finally becomes earth. The Batak believe that three categories of begu exist.
The bicara guru are the begu of stillborn babies or of babies who have died before teething. It is possible to turn bicara guru into guardian spirits if misfortune has befallen the family of the child shortly after its death. Ith the help of a guru sibaso, the bicara guru can be made the family's guardian spirit for which a shrine is provided and to which sacrifices are regularly made. The begu of members of the family who have had a sudden death (mate sada-uari) can also act as guardian spirits for the family. A shrine is built where they are venerated and where sacrifices are made.
A third category consists of the begu of dead virgins (tungkup). Their graves, called bata-bata or ingan tungkup, are maintained for a long time by their relatives. Family tree or lineage is a very important thing for the Batak. For those who do not know the lineage will be considered as a strayed (nalilu) Batak.
Batak people are required to know their lineage or at least the ancestors of which the family name Marga (Batak) and the related clans (dongan tubu) came from. This is necessary in order to determine the relation of a kinship (partuturanna) within a clan or simply the surname Marga (Batak) itself.
All research is suggestive that this is a " Toraja Pemia " mask. The masks take the form of an elongated human face, equally wide from the upper edge down to the mouth. The horizontally-placed almond-shaped eyes are cut through, thus making possible good visibility.The mouth is wide, arch-shaped, and provided with two rows of carved teeth; the corners are uplifted in such a manner that the mask gives the impression of smiling. Protruding ears with a distinctive dot-in-the-middle are carved at the sides. Dancers wearing this mask also used a pair of wooden arms (very much like the Kwakiutl Indians from British Columbia). In the examples I've heard the masks are used to commemorate a deceased relative; In this example a son. When entering the village, the relatives would welcome and kiss the mask.
(Most commonly this is performed by the mother). The purpose of all of this was to win over the son's soul so that it might bless the mother in order that she would soon bear another son and therefore "heal". Masks in the form of human faces, embodying the spirits of the dead, were also used among other Batak groups through to the early 20th century. When the person dies, all his vassals attended the funeral, each accompanied by one or two dancers wearing these masks.
It is a large mask that any adult could wear; measures 17 1/2 inches tall x 10 inches wide. With regrets: there is NO display stand included with this mask.
You very well may never see another one of these in a life time of collecting. Please see my other masks: Check out my other items. The item "Large, Vintage, Batak Wooden Helmet Mask Sumatra, Indonesian" is in sale since Saturday, December 19, 2015. This item is in the category "Art\Folk Art & Indigenous Art". The seller is "maskmonger" and is located in Freeport, Maine.This item can be shipped worldwide.