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Asian art

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Ceremonial spoon (sono or soke)

19th century-20th century


Unknown Artist


Across Indonesia the ivory of animals, including elephants, sea mammals, buffalo, deer and cattle, was sourced locally and imported as part of the extensive trade networks operating throughout the archipelago and the wider South and Southeast Asian region. Prized for their monetary value and decorative qualities, and believed by many societies to possess powerful animistic properties, the horns, teeth and bone from such creatures were popular materials for ceremonial objects and items denoting status. On Timor domesticated buffalo and cattle served as an important economic asset but were also necessary for ritual sacrifices associated with purification, renewal and fertility. The horns of large creatures were often used to
carve intricate spoons which were most likely used for large ceremonial feasts and offerings to ancestors.



19th century-20th century

Media category


Materials used

buffalo horn


6.5 x 10.0 x 5.0 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, probably purchased in West Timor, Indonesia mid 1980s. Appears in 'Southeast Asian tribal art', an unpublished text by Christopher Wilson, College of Fine Arts, Sydney, November 1986.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, 84 (colour illus.).

Christopher Wilson, Southeast Asian Tribal Art, Nov 1986, Plate 35 (colour illus.)unpaginated.