This primitive carved wood mask is from the Batak people who live around mystical Lake Toba in the northern reaches of the island of Sumatra. The small collection of Batak protector masks pictured in this catalogue (see them all under our category "Tribal") shows the fascinating range of facial expressions artisans were able to achieve in these relatively simply carved masks. This particular mask is unusual because the face appears to be smiling; its world class bloodshot eyes, however, are similar to those seen on other masks. Made with no eye openings because they were meant to be hung on household walls rather than worn, these masks are related in Shamanistic significance to the large wood Singha heads that are used to protect Batak dwellings from evil spirits. Although the Batak were converted to Christianity by the Dutch colonists in Indonesia, they retained strong Shamanistic beliefs and practices. In form and character, these masks resemble those from tribal peoples on two other islands--the Papua, New Guinea, ancestral masks, and the Kalimantan Dyak Hudoq masks used to dispel demons during rice festivals. The masks generally are a long teardrop shape with large hypnotic eyes. Sometimes they have a strange appendage that resembles the long neck and head of a bird. They are painted in a kaleidoscopic variety of designs and colors. Although this mask most likely is from the latter half of the 20th century, it is difficult to date any of them with accuracy. Dimensions: height 19 3/4" (50 cm), width 7" 18 cm), depth 3 1/2" (9 cm).