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Asian art

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Bamboo tube (solep) with stopper or charm (karuhai) in the form of seated figure

19th century-20th century


Unknown Artist


Decorative bamboo tubes and containers for utilitarian and ceremonial use are widespread in the arts of Borneo. Often present in negotiation and exchange, they were used to hold household items, luxury goods and medicines. Designs vary from depictions of plant motifs and protective symbols to more elaborate narrative imagery relating to the myths and legends of Borneo.While the precise purpose and origin of this tube (‘solep’) and stopper or charm (‘karuhai’) are unknown, the overall design is characteristic of examples created and used by Ngaju shamans of central Kalimantan. Seated atop a lotus-like base, the charm figure would have been carved by a shaman and then attached to the bamboo tube and anointed with offerings of blood or egg.


Other Titles

Medicine container

Medicine container with carved stopper in shape of a seated figure

Place where the work was made

Borneo Indonesia

Cultural origin

Ngaju or Iban


19th century-20th century

Media category

Ceremonial object

Materials used

bamboo and wood


36.0 x 3.2 x 3.2 cm :

a - bamboo container, 26 x 3.2 cm

b - wood stopper, 12.1 x 2.5 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 Sarawak, Malaysia mid 1970s or1985. Appears in 'Southeast Asian tribal art', an unpublished text by Christopher Wilson, College of Fine Arts, Sydney, November 1986.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, 48 (colour illus.).

Christopher Wilson, Southeast Asian Tribal Art, Nov 1986, Plate 8, (colour illus) unpaginated..