| Pair of ancestor figures [si baso nabolon]

Toba Batak people
Sumatra, Indonesia

Pair of ancestor figures [si baso nabolon] 19th century
wood, hair, plant fibres, beads, metal
a 56.0 (h) cm
National Museum of Indonesia, Jakarta


Batak peoples believe that a dead person’s soul can cause calamity if it is not properly and reverently laid to rest. Along with mourning rituals and elaborate feasts, the creation of effigies to honour the dead ensures that souls enter the ancestral realm and do not trouble the living. This male and female pair is depicted unclothed, adorned only in jewellery and beads, each with a thick head of hair. Exuding sexuality, figures of this type were placed in granaries and lofts to watch over clan fertility.

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