| Coffin

Kenyah-Kayan people
Malaysia or Kalimantan, Sarawak, Borneo, Malaysia

Coffin 19th-early 20th century
50.0 (h) x 41.5 (w) x 204.0 (d) cm
Asian Civilisations Museum, Singapore


Writhing aso dog-dragons, serpents and grotesque fanged mask-like faces adorn the surfaces of this coffin, while fierce three-dimensional creatures form the end panels and handles. The Kenyah and Kayan peoples of Borneo emblazon their funerary structures with fearsome creatures to serve a protective function—keeping malevolent spirits from preying on the soul of the dead. Such imagery is not, however, exclusive to funerals and art associated with death, with similar aso images appearing on the walls of longhouses.

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