Kalimantan, Borneo, Indonesia
Panel of a funerary vault
[sandung or salong]
19th century or earlier
112.0 (h) x 61.0 (w) cm
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
Ancestral religions across Southeast Asia call for elaborate mortuary rites. Extravagant secondary funerals accompanied by spectacular art ensure that the soul of the deceased successfully journeys to the afterworld, and ceases to interfere negatively in community life.
In Borneo, large mausoleums [salong or sandung] are constructed to store the bones of deceased aristocrats after secondary burial ceremonies. The end panels of the funerary vaults feature fearsome images intended to ward off spiritual dangers. This panel depicts a menacing creature from the lower world, with heart-shaped face, round sunken eyes, bared teeth, protruding tongue and splayed angular limbs.