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 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 elongated wood that has a serated end at the top of the container is called a parutan and a larger version of this would be used to husk coconuts.
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 in Samosir, Sumatra, 2021. Size 35 x 10 x 25 cm / 14 x 4 x 10 in