| Sacrifice pole [sependu]

Ngaju or Ot Danum people
south Kalimantan, Kalimantan, Borneo, Indonesia

Sacrifice pole [sependu] 19th century
170.0 (h) x 26.5 (w) x 49.0 (d) cm
KIT Tropenmuseum, Amsterdam


Reflecting the belief that the afterlife mirrors the earthly realm, in many animist cultures slaves were sacrificed to continue serving their deceased owners. During the secondary funerals of the Ngaju people of Borneo, for instance, slaves were tied to distinctive pole sculptures before being ritually killed. This sacrifice pole shows a feline clinging to the head of a hampatong, both with fangs aggressively bared. Slave sacrifice was thought to benefit the community, appeasing the soul of the dead noble and eradicating disease.

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