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Priest's Book

Culture Batak
Title Priest's Book (Pustaha or Pustaka)
Date 19th–early 20th century
Medium Wood, bark, and and pigment
Dimensions Object: 2 1/2 × 6 × 1 1/16 in. (6.4 × 15.2 × 2.7 cm)
Overall (closed): 2 1/2 × 3 × 1 1/16 in. (6.4 × 7.6 × 2.7 cm)
Credit Line Gift of Thomas Slater, Eskenazi Museum of Art, Indiana University
Accession Number 87.11.5

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About this Work

Made with a hard wooden cover and soft bark pages, folded like an accordion, pustaha contain ritual knowledge compiled and written by Batak priests known as datu. This knowledge includes prayers, rituals, recipes, prescriptions, laws and more that are necessary to the work of the priest. The book is written in a ritual script called poda that only Batak priests are able to read. In addition to the written script, it is also common for such books to contain drawings typically in black or red pigment.

Provenance research is ongoing for this and many other items in the Eskenazi Museum of Art permanent collection. For more information about the provenance of this artwork, please contact the department curator with specific questions.

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"Priest's Book | Collections Online." Collections Online. Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art, Indiana University, 2024.