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Asian art

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Ceremonial coconut scraper

20th century


Unknown Artist


On Nias all significant events in an individual’s life cycle (including birth, puberty, marriage and death), as well as those concerning the community as a whole, were accompanied by a complex system of rituals and festive observances. Specific ceremonies and large feasts were held to mark the acquisition of status and wealth by aristocrats and commoners, and also required for the creation of temples, monuments, buildings and gold jewellery. The importance of ritual feasts – which ultimately honour and appease the deities and ancestors – resulted in the prolific production of monumental sculpture in stone as well as the creation of ceremonial implements. Carved in the form of a four-legged creature with prominent male
genitalia, this seat once incorporated a serrated blade at the top of the neck to remove the flesh of coconuts. The exceptional workmanship of the stool, which resembles the large stone ‘osa-osa’ seats carved for ‘owasa’ feasts of merit, and the presence of a small crowned ancestral figure, suggest it was used for a significant feast sponsored by a high-ranking aristocrat.


Other Title

Nias coconut scraper

Place where the work was made

Central Nias Indonesia

Cultural origin



20th century

Media category


Materials used



22.5 x 15.0 x 49.0 cm


Purchased with funds provided by the Christopher Worrall Wilson Bequest 2011


Not on display

Accession number


Shown in 1 exhibition

Exhibition history

  • Glorious, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 27 May 2017–06 Jan 2019

Referenced in 1 publication


Niki van den Heuvel, Ancestral art of the Indonesian archipelago, Sydney, 2017, 82-83(colour illus).