This exhibition catalogue has been put together to enable the general public to discover the art of a people that was cut off from the West for a long time. The Batak are made up of several ethnic groups and they live to the north of the island of Sumatra, in a mountainous region riven with craggy valleys.
Profoundly steeped in their ancestral customs as they are, the Batak produced a great many artefacts that are connected with their ritual practises and their everyday lives, which are woven into a complex system of exchange. Their artists pay attention to the detail in the small-size works, and also demonstrate a refined feeling for ornamentation in the monumental pieces. They are masters at working in wood and can skilfully combine intricate carving with relief work, but they also make splendid sculptures in stone. Most of these artworks have come from the former collection in the Barbier-Mueller museum in Geneva, whose ‘Insulinde’ collection the Quai Branly Museum acquired in 2001. A selection of artefacts from the 19th and 20th century from the musée de l’Homme rounds off this exhibition.