We acknowledge the Gadigal of the Eora Nation, the traditional custodians of the Country on which the Art Gallery of NSW stands.


'Penji' memorial grave marker

late 19th century


Unknown Artist

Alternate image of 'Penji' memorial grave marker by
Alternate image of 'Penji' memorial grave marker by
  • Details

    Place where the work was made
    East Sumba Sumba East Nusa Tenggara Lesser Sunda Islands Indonesia
    late 19th century
    Media categories
    Ceremonial object , Sculpture
    Materials used
    220.0 x 65.0 x 20.0 cm
    Gift of Nomadic Rug Traders 2006
    Not on display
    Accession number

    Reproduction requests

  • About

    East Sumbanese tombs consist of a horizontal dolmen structure ('reti') and vertical grave markers ('penji'). The sculptural motifs on a 'penji' commemorate the life and achievements of the deceased. On the side of this sculpture is a weaver at her loom and a hunting scene. A snake and the potent mamuli design appear on the front. Mamuli are ritual objects invested with the capacity to mediate between the human world and realm of ancestral spirits. Invoking the form of the female generative organ, the motif is a powerful fertility symbol. A powerful crocodile crowns the penji stone.

    Asian Art Department, AGNSW, 2006.

  • Bibliography

    Referenced in 1 publication

    • Nomadic Rug Traders (Editor), Newsletter, Sydney, 2006, 1(colour illus.). The colour illus. on page 1 is a detail showing the weaver at her loom.