Skip to content

Update from the Gallery regarding COVID-19

The Art Gallery of New South Wales is open. We are observing strict physical distancing and hygiene measures to protect the health of visitors and staff and minimise the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus). Read the latest visit information




Asian art

View More:


Barkcloth mallet (la'uma solowo)

mid 20th century-late 20th century


Unknown Artist


Unlike many ancestral and animist cultures throughout the Indonesian archipelago, Nias society lacks a strong tradition of textile weaving. While simple woven cloth was produced using back-strap looms on the island, the use of plaindyed barkcloth and imported cotton, which was then embellished with embroidery and appliqué, was far more widespread.

The earliest known textiles of the Austronesian language groups in mainland and insular Southeast Asia were fabricated by beating the bark of trees to produce a felted cloth. Heavy instruments of stone and wood were used to produce various grades of barkcloth, from thick unfinished hides, which provided excellent physical protection, to softer cloth used for refined garments and accessories. This unusual mallet depicts a distinctive male adu image wearing a pronged headdress and clasping a small cup. The figure renders the object decorative rather than functional and was probably carved subsequent to its practical use.


Place where the work was made

Nias Indonesia


mid 20th century-late 20th century

Media category


Materials used



30 x 8 x 13 cm


Christopher Worrall Wilson Bequest 2010


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


Christopher Wilson, pre Nov 1986-1996, Sydney/New South Wales/Australia, purchased in Indonesia. Appears in 'Southeast Asian tribal art', an unpublished text by Christopher Wilson, College of Fine Arts, Sydney, November 1986.

Mariann Ford, 1996-Dec 2010, Sydney/New South Wales/Australia, inherited from the estate of Christopher Wilson. Gift to the Art Gallery of New South Wales as part of the Christopher Worrall Wilson Bequest 2010.

Referenced in 2 publications


Niki van den Heuvel, Ancestral art of the Indonesian archipelago, Sydney, 2017, 39 (colour illus.).

Christopher Wilson, Southeast Asian Tribal Art, Nov 1986, plate 18 (colour illus.) unpaginated.. unpublished