Old Carved Batak Bone Calendar
AGE: Unknown (old)
LENGTH: – 34cm
WIDTH: – Widest 14.5cm/narrowest 6cm
WEIGHT: – 200 gm
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Traditional Old Carved Batak Bone Calendar used by the Batak people of North Sumatra, Indonesia which provided the tribes people with a unique way to measure time and predict future events. They are also referred to as pustaha or parhalaan, which means “the way of counting” in the Batak language. The bone calendar with symbols and carvings of animals is based on lunar cycles and consists of 12 months (paha) and 30 days (ari) each.
The months are named after the phases of the moon, such as Paha Sipaha (New Moon Month), Paha Sipaha Dua (Second New Moon Month), Paha Sipaha Tolu (Third New Moon Month), and so on. The days are numbered from 1 to 30, with some exceptions for leap years and intercalary days.
The months are named after the constellations that appear in the sky during that time. The calendar also incorporates the concept of sadarion, which is a cycle of 12 or 13 years, each with a different animal symbol. The sadarion is similar to the Chinese zodiac but with some differences. For example, the Batak zodiac includes the elephant and the buffalo, while the Chinese zodiac has the dragon and the ox.
The bone calendar is used by the Datu, or the Batak shaman, who can interpret the meaning of the signs and advise the people on various matters, such as farming, hunting, fishing, marriage, health, and warfare.
The bone calendar is not only a tool for measuring time, but also a way of understanding the cosmic order and the relationship between humans and nature. The priest or Datu can read the signs on the bone calendar and determine the auspicious and inauspicious days for various activities. The characters include geometric shapes, animals, plants and human figures, as well as other symbols that represent a written account of natural phenomena, spiritual forces, ancestral spirits, and historical events. The Datu can also use the bone calendar to perform rituals and ceremonies to appease the gods and spirits and to seek their blessings.
The Bone calendar is a fascinating example of how the Batak people have preserved their ancient culture and wisdom. The symbols and signs are derived from the Batak cosmology, mythology, astrology, and numerology. Some examples of the symbols and signs are:
- Ulos: A traditional Batak cloth that symbolizes protection, blessing, and honor. It is usually depicted as a cross or a square on the calendar.
- Singa: A mythical lion that symbolizes strength, courage, and leadership. It is usually depicted as a circle with a dot or a star inside on the calendar.
- Boru: A woman or a daughter that symbolizes fertility, beauty, and harmony. It is usually depicted as a crescent moon or a half circle on the calendar.
- Dalihan Na Tolu: The three pillars of the Batak society that symbolize kinship, clan, and marriage. They are usually depicted as three vertical lines on the calendar.