Help identifying origin of mysterious handmade book
September 2, 2022 2:20 PM   Subscribe

I found this fascinating little book at an antique store. The person who sold it to me did not know anything about it. Maybe you have some idea?

It has a wooden cover carved with a salamander. The pages, made out thick rough paper, folds out accordian-style, with hand-drawn text in a language I don't know (or maybe not language? Could be symbols with some other kind of meaning?)

Some of the pages have endearing/unsettling pictures of stylized, vaguely human figures. I love them, and this weird and wonderful creation. I would like to know more about it. If it is an object of religious or cultural significance, I will treat it respectfully and try to find someone connected with that tradition to give it to. If it is a grimoire, I'll do...something with it that hopefully leaves me unpossesed by the demon salamander queen. (Or just let her take me if she likes. Could be a lovely life.)

Some pictures:
Accordian pages
Individual pages: one two three four five
posted by prewar lemonade to Grab Bag (2 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I looked at some of the images using Google Lens, and this looks similar to a pustaha, which Wikipedia describes as "the magic book of the Toba Batak people of North Sumatra". The front cover is a gecko!
posted by dreamyshade at 3:11 PM on September 2, 2022 [23 favorites]

Response by poster: Oh wow, I think you got it! Thanks so much dreamyshade!
posted by prewar lemonade at 3:21 PM on September 2, 2022

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