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Published by Early 20th century, Indonesia


Quantity Available: 1

From: Lux Mentis, Booksellers, ABAA/ILAB (Portland, ME, U.S.A.)

Seller Rating: 5-star rating

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About this Item: Early 20th century, Indonesia. Hardcover. Condition: Very Good. Unique. Twelve (two-sided) panel concertina fold; fastened on handcarved alim (or agarwood) tree-bark original boards; inscribed and drawn on smoothed and pressed alim tree-bark; 4.75 x 39" (unfolded); illus. Handwritten in red and black ink pigments. Boards stained with natural pigments, in remarkable condition, less one split in bark panel. An exceptional and critical book for Indonesia history and culture. The 'pustaha' [named by the Batak people of interior province of northern Sumatra, Indonesia] are manuscript books constructed and composed by their "datu" or magicians and healers. Origins of the pustaha remain somewhat clouded to non-indigenous research, although, records of provenance date to the 18th century. The Batak people settled mainly in the Lake Toba region of North Sumatra, and included three dominant dialects: Toba, Angkola, and Mandailing. The books themselves are frequently made with alim tree-bark; written and illustrated with other natural ink pigments. The pustaha is significant for the Batak, as the texts are idiosyncratic to the datu, meaning they are didactic tools for apprentices, but also for members of the community to interpret important decisions and advise on community issues, as reconciled by the datu. The books are often written in note-like script. The script is almost illegible for most members of the community, and indecipherable to Western scholars, however the syllabe script is thought to be derived from East Indian Sanskrit or to some scholars, Indian Palava script. Many contemporary pustaha were made and sold to tourists of the region, as well. The content of the books vary, but generally are divination books, including diagnosis of illness, protective/destructive magic, and acts of cult. Many of the books are also astrological in nature and contain solar and lunar charts and tables, and in the case of this particular pustaha, which contains animistic figures. This book features four carved lizards in low relief on one of the boards, which is associated with fertility and fertility rites. The verso has a carved image of star or a floral symbol. Many of the figurative illustrations in the book [a child] [a goddess figure with serpents] [star], also allude to creation myth, as the 'tendi' manifestation of 'life' and 'death' represented these symbols. The text is inscribed and illustrated on both sides of the bark. Although colonized by the Dutch government in the 19th century, many Batak people retain indigenous religious beliefs, although increasingly marginalized.Voorhoeve, P. "Batak Bark Books," Conservator, University of Leiden, John Rylands Library and the Manchester University Press, 1951.Teygeler, Rene. "Pustaha. A Study into the Production Process of the Batak Book," 1993. Seller Inventory # 9148

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Published by (19th c.),


Quantity Available: 1

From: Harteveld Rare Books Ltd. (Fribourg, Switzerland)

Seller Rating: 4-star rating

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About this Item: (19th c.), 22x19 cm, Hs. beidseitig auf Baumrinde geschrieben u. in Leporelloform gefaltet 20 Bl. mit Illustrationen verziert / 20 feuilles en forme d?harmonica (leporello) écriture de haut en bas avec illustrations, Original handwritten magic or divination book of the Batak-People on tree bark. Magical incantation and recipe book (Pustaha) (Batak. Central Sumatra) . This special type of book called ,Pustaha? or ,Pustaka? is made of folded treebark (bast) and contains informations about magical practises and divinity in the form of text and drawings of magical symbols. It is handwritten in a syllabe script derived from the Indian Sanskrit. The language is one of the dialects of the 6 groups of the Batak people, living around the vulcanic Toba Lake and in the surrounding mountains in northern Sumatra. The Batak had the reputation to be fierce warriors who practised ritual cannibalism until they became subjects of the colonial Dutch East Indian government. They have a rich animistic tradition with complex rituals (funerals etc.). In most Batak communities, only the priests, or ,datu? were able to use the Batak script, and use it mainly for magical texts, divination, fortune telling, calendars and medicine. Only the datu and their students were supposed to know the secrets contained within these books. A unique and rare item.?Bark-paper books like this one contain rituals and ?recipes? for magical incantations and spells. They were used by shamans (datu), and formed part of their ritual paraphernalia. The Batak are unique amongst tribal peoples in having a written language derived from Sanskrit introduced to Central Sumatra by Hindu traders more than a thousand years ago? (Art of the ancestors).Please notify before visiting to see a book. Prices are excl. VAT/TVA (only Switzerland) & postage. cf. The history of the Book, J. Hauck collection N° 41; Sian Jay, Art of the ancestors. Nias - Batak - Dayak (art) from the collections of Mark A. Gordon & P. Mondolin, page 41 - 43. Singapour 2007. Seller Inventory # 100008

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