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Architectural Ornament (Singa)

Date:
late 19th–early 20th century
Geography:
Indonesia, Sumatra
Culture:
Toba Batak people
Medium:
Wood, paint
Dimensions:
H. 29 x W. 14 x D. 15 in. (73.7 x 35.6 x 38.1 cm)
Classification:
Wood-Sculpture
Credit Line:
Gift of Fred and Rita Richman, 1988
Accession Number:
1988.143.170
  • Description

    The central image in Toba Batak art is the singa, a supernatural creature whose likeness protects individuals, homes, and communities from malevolent supernatural forces. The name singa derives from the Sanskrit word meaning lion. However, the Toba Batak singa is a fantastic composite that combines features of several different species. Among the defining features of the singa are the three stylized, backward-curving horns that crown the head. Most also have large round eyes, a 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. This large singa head is a facade ornament.

  • Provenance

    [Mark Felix, Brussels, Belgium, until 1977]; Fred and Rita Richman, New York, 1977–1988

  • See also
    What
    Where
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History
    MetPublications
315727

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