Ngaju or Ot Danum people
Kalimantan, Borneo, Indonesia
rattan, natural dyes
112.0 (h) x 181.0 (w) cm
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
Southeast Asian animist communities view the universe as a tiered system consisting of an earthly world in which humans live, layered between two supernatural realms. Those upper and lower worlds, respectively associated with the sky and with the rivers and sea, are the domains of ancestors, deities and nature spirits.
The traditional Southeast Asian house and the domain of the dead are depicted as mirrors of this tripartite universe. Domestic animals are corralled beneath the house, and reptiles and fish swim in rivers running below. Human activity occurs in the middle space of the pile house, while the sacred roof cavity above is the abode of the ancestors and the storage place of sacred family heirlooms.