| Prow from a tree trunk canoe

Damar Island
south Moluccas, Indonesia

Prow from a tree trunk canoe early - mid 19th century
wood, paint
118.0 (h) x 32.0 (w) x 9.0 (d) cm
National Museum of Ethnology, Leiden


Everyday transportation, boats also have great symbolic meaning in the south Moluccas, where the organisation of villages mirrors that of a boat and its crew. Illustrating the pervasive importance of the harmonious meeting of male and female aspects of life and the cosmos for survival and increase, boats symbolically unite elements of both sexes. Hulls made from hollow tree trunks are considered female and prows male. This prow takes the form of a serpent, decorated with aquatic creatures and spiral designs.

Subscribe to newsletter

You can also follow developments on twitter or facebook