Elaine and Jim
Wolfensohn gift

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Red Case: Myths and rituals

Seated Ganesha

Hinduism is the main religion and philosophy of India and Ganesha is one of its most popular gods. He is the god of success and destroyer of evils and obstacles. He is also worshipped as the god of education, knowledge, wisdom and wealth. Ganesha is one of five main Hindu gods; the others are Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva and Durga. More detail

Unknown artist 'Seated Ganesha', 9th–10th century

Unknown artist Seated Ganesha 9th–10th century, bronze, National Gallery of Australia

Ankus [elephant goad]

Because of their great strength and ability to be trained, elephants have long been used to haul logs and carry people. The Mahout (elephant trainer) uses an ankus (goad or prod) to drive and control the elephant by poking the sensitive skin behind its ears. More detail

Unknown artist Ankus [elephant goad] late 19th – early 20th century, steel, brass, National Gallery of Australia

Marka mask

Mali is a republic in Africa, in the region of Western Sudan, south of the Sahara Desert. It has a population of about 6.5 million people and is one of the poorest countries in the world, often afflicted by long droughts. The people make their living by herding sheep, goats and cattle, and by growing corn, millet, rice and cotton. More detail

Unknown artist Marka mask late 19th – early 20th century, brass, wood, National Gallery of Australia

Ceremonial kettle

This brass kettle was made in Brunei, in Indonesia, but it has many motifs that reflect its Chinese origins. It is decorated with symbols that are said to bring luck, good fortune and fertility. The dragon motif on the spout and handle is a symbol of the Emperors in China. More detail


Unknown artist Ceremonial kettle 17th - 19th century

Unknown artist Ceremonial kettle 17th–19th century, brass National Gallery of Australia

Bush mice

Aboriginal art is well known for painted and carved representations of totemic animals and ancestral figures that are created for particular ceremonies. However, images of animals, including birds and fish, and everyday domestic objects form much of the subject matter for carvings and fibre sculptures created by Aboriginal artists working across Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory. More detail

Lena Yarinkura Bush mice 2002 aluminium and wood National Gallery of Australia, Canberra


Aboriginal people associate the iridescent lustre of pearl shells with the shimmering qualities of water, rain and lightning. Highly prized as ornaments and ceremonial objects, pearl shells were exchanged along a vast system of inland trade routes that stretched from the Kimberley region in north Western Australia to central and southern Australia. More detail

Aubrey Tigan Riji 2009 carved pearl shell and red ochre National Gallery of Australia, Canberra