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Title

Bowl carved with mythical creature (aso)

late 19th century-20th century


Artists

Unknown Artist


About

The practice of headhunting on Borneo was strongly associated with notions of fertility and renewal. It was essential for restoring cosmic order, sanctifying and renewing relationships with ancestor spirits, and ensuring the spiritual and physical welfare of whole communities. After headhunting was largely abandoned by the Dayak and Iban groups of Borneo in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the skulls and bones of wild swine, bears, primates and apes were used for rituals dependent on headhunting and sacrifice. Probably fashioned from the skull of a large primate, this bowl would have been considered a prized hunter’s trophy and a ritual implement imbued with the spiritual essence of the deceased prey. The simple form is embellished with the depiction of the ubiquitous Bornean ‘aso’, a demonic dragon–dog beast originating from the underworld and associated with fertility and protection. The delicate scrolling design is reminiscent of the ornamentation styles of the Kenyah and Kayan groups of Central Kalimantan.


Details


Place where the work was made

Central Kalimantan Borneo Indonesia


Cultural origin

Kenyah or Kayan


Date

late 19th century-20th century


Media category

Ceremonial object


Materials used

animal skull


Dimensions

6.8 x 15.0 x 14.0 cm


Credit

Christopher Worrall Wilson Bequest 2010


Accession number

551.2010



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, 50 (colour illus.).