Anthropomorphic stone monument
[gowe nio niha]
19th century or earlier
240.0 (h) x 99.0 (w) x 16.0 (d) cm
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
Spectacular stone monuments were created on the island of Nias to accompany the cycle of major feasts, the number and sumptuousness of which confirmed political status. This striking anthropomorphic gowe figure was commissioned for a feast of merit intended to ratify or elevate the patron’s social and political standing.
Carved in the bold flat style of megaliths and shafts found throughout Nias, this impressive figure is depicted with both arms raised in a gesture of authority. The prominent pectorals and genitalia emphasise the patron’s warlike male qualities of bravery and strength. His great affluence is fortified by the depiction, in stone, of the accoutrements of a Nias nobleman including a gold bifurcated headdress, necklace, bangles and ear studs.