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Title

Male ancestor figure (adu zatua)

late 19th century-early 20th century


Artists

Unknown Artist


About

Ancestors play a crucial role on the island of Nias in ensuring success, wealth and fertility among the living, and in avoiding disaster or misfortune. Following the death of an individual, a wooden image or ‘adu zatua’ was prepared as an abode for the ancestral spirit to mediate between the human world and the realm of the gods. ‘Adu zatua’ required regular offerings to ensure the continued benevolence of the ancestor for the benefit of the living, and to further elevate the ancestor’s success in the afterlife.

This ‘adu zatua’ is depicted wearing the regalia reserved for the noble aristocratic class of Nias, finery closely connected with the gods of the
upper world. This includes a tall crown-like headdress, which alludes to the cosmic world tree or ‘tora’a’ and the layers of the universe, and golden
accoutrements indicative of status and wealth, including a ‘nifato-fato’ necklace, armband, single earring and false facial hair.


Details


Place where the work was made

Central Nias Indonesia


Cultural origin

Nias


Date

late 19th century-early 20th century


Materials used

wood


Dimensions

41 x 10.0 x 8.5 cm


Credit

Christopher Worrall Wilson Bequest 2010


Accession number

522.2010



Shown in 1 exhibition

Exhibition history


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


Referenced in 1 publication

Bibliography


Ancestral art of the Indonesian archipelago, Sydney, 2017, 28 (colour illus.).