Male ancestor figure
19th-early 20th century
89.0 (h) x 24.5 (w) x 24.5 (d) cm
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
In central Flores, standing wooden figures represent the founding ancestors from whom the nobility claim descent. Called ana deo, children of the gods, the sculptures are placed in shrines with the clan’s sacred heirlooms which include textiles, gold and ivory tusks. Shown naked, the figures’ genitalia evokes ongoing fertility. This male ancestor, with large nose, sunken eyes and small mouth, is adorned in thick bracelets and sleek headdress, his upturned palms invite offerings.