There are several groups of Batak found in North Sumatra several hours outside of the city of Medan. They include Batak Karo, Batak Samosir and Batak Simalungun. Images of faces (bolon) such as seen on this wooden carving appear on the traditional Batak houses are found around the fascinating area of Lake Toba. Wooden storage containers such as this dopet na raja have been used traditional by Batak people to carry medicine or store precious goods. The patterns are called gorga are stylized elephant and tiger heads. This container is a small version of what was originally carved and used by a household.
The wood mahogany (Swietania macrophylla) used to carve this decorative object is sustainably harvested. The carver is from a lineage of carvers who have done this type of work for generations.
Hand carving, one piece with carved out opening, wood (Swietania macrophylla), made on the islands of Samosir, Sumatra, 2021. Size 23 x 11 x 50 cm / 9 x 4.5 x 19.5 in