Dragon Head Stopper for Shaman's Magic Horn 10893

Naga Morsarang 

Batak, Sumatra


18th/early 19th Century

15 in/38 cm
Click here for a video of the object!

A Batak shaman, Datu, would always have at least three crucial objects in order to carry out his magical enterprises: a staff, Tunggal Panaluhan; a horn; Naga Morsarang; and a book of spells, Pustaha. Of these, a great shaman’s horn would prove the most imposing sculpturally. The example presented here is a case in point. Observed is the mythological animal, singha, expressed in an archaic dragon form, naga. Note the ancestor riders on the singha’s back, with heads now deficient, long lost in antiquity. This naga (serpent) element served as the stopper-cover for a horn that was filled with puk puk, the organic substance that held the souls of captured enemies. This object dates to the period of rampant Batak headhunting and cannibalism. The supreme quality of both the composition and carving speak to the blood of human sacrifice, while the great patina informs that this object was handed down as an heirloom for at least two centuries…