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Thomas Murray

Shaman's staffs (tunggal panaluhan)
Batak, North Sumatra
17th/19th C
Wood, cotton yarn, feathers
157.5 cms/62 inches  

Shaman's staffs

Each Batak community had a shaman (datu) whose responsibilities fell into three departments: the white magic of healing; the sorcery of malevolent spells; and the foretelling of the future. The tunggal panaluhan staff was an especially powerful tool of the datu, empowered by incest taboo iconography. Such staffs were believed to affect the outcome of battles and to change the weather. Presented here are two archaic-style tunggal panaluhan of the 17th/18th century and an example of the so called 'Hindu Javanese' type from the 19th century.

all text, images © Thomas Murray 


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