Toba Batak Singa House Ornament – Sumatra, Indonesia 20th Century – Ex-Sotheby’s
Large carved hardwood ornamental structure used as a support and a decorative frontispiece.
Large carved hardwood ornamental structure used as a support and a decorative frontispiece. It bears a stylized face embedded within an ornately carved and painted geometric pattern. Repainted and several cracks, but otherwise excellent condition.
Singa, a supernatural apotropaic creature whose likeness protects individuals, homes, and communities from malevolent supernatural forces, and is the central image for the Toba Batak peoples of Sumatra, Indonesia. The name singa derives from the Sanskrit word meaning lion. However, the singa is described as “part human, part water buffalo, and part crocodile or lizard”. It is variedly represented, among the defining features are the three stylized, backward-curving horns that crown the head. Most also have big bulging eyes, a well-defined human-like nose, and a horse-like muzzle with a long protruding tongue that is intended to intimidate supernatural enemies. The singa image occurs on items ranging from finger rings to monumental stone sarcophagi. Some of the most prominent appear on the facades of Toba Batak houses and rice granaries.