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19th C. Indonesian Wood Shaman Staff w/ Horse Hair

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Lot 0081 Details

Description
Southeast Asia, Indonesia, Sumatra, Batak peoples, ca. late 19th to early 20th century CE. A fantastic, hand-carved wooden shaman's staff formed from a singular piece of red-brown hardwood and bearing a thin iron plate wrapped around the base. The slender staff features a slew of abstract anthropomorphic and zoomorphic effigies, with two figures and two animals on the bottom, a single figure in the middle, and six figures on the handle. An expressive standing figure composes the handle section and displays a wide head, tab-shaped ears, a gaping mouth, and a cloth bundle surmounted with a lock of horse hair on the top. Many of the figures' recessed eyes are inlaid with pink-hued glass cabochons that provide for a lovely presentation along with the smooth patina that has formed. Size: 1.375" W x 60.9" H (3.5 cm x 154.7 cm); 61.6" H (156.5 cm) on included custom stand.

Magical shamanic staffs like this example were carved by the shaman over a period of years as a process of honing their skills in medicine, spiritual cleansing, and patience. During this time, a boy would be taken from an enemy village, apprenticed to the shaman, and ultimately sacrificed in a ceremony to 'activate' the inherent powers of the magic staff. Furthermore, the brain matter of the sacrificed boy would be first powdered and then placed into a notch in the top of the staff covered by the cloth and horsehair plug. Once complete, the shamanic powers of the staff would be officially activated.

Provenance: private Nevada, USA collection; ex-private Willis and Dimondstien collection

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#150084
Condition
Losses to some inlaid glass cabochons as shown. Repair to lower iron plate, with small chips and light adhesive residue along break lines. Minor softening to some finer details, and light encrustations within some recessed areas. Nice earthen deposits and wonderful patina throughout.
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19th C. Indonesian Wood Shaman Staff w/ Horse Hair

Estimate $14,000 - $20,000Mar 19, 2020
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