| Ceremonial axe

Late Bronze Age
collected Roti, Indonesia

Ceremonial axe 1st century-4th century CE
72.0 (h) x 41.5 (w) x 1.2 (d) cm
National Museum of Indonesia, Jakarta


Discovered on the far eastern Indonesian island of Roti, this graceful axe was clearly intended for use in ritual rather than battle. One side of the shaft has fine geometric decoration while the other reveals the bold face of a seated male figure with an ornate headdress fanning out above. Stylistically removed from the Dong Son feathered plumes, the prominent mask-like face on this object is an early manifestation of the depiction of ferocious yet protective visages in the art of animist Southeast Asia.

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