| Priest's headdress

Nias people
south Nias, Indonesia

Priest's headdress 19th century
wood, cotton, paint
84.0 (h) x 23.0 (w) x 33.0 (d) cm
National Museum of Indonesia, Jakarta


This tall wooden crown in the form of a head enabled a Nias priest from an aristocratic family to communicate with the realm of the spirits. While the forehead of the headdress is adorned with the distinctive spiked headdress of a Nias nobleman, the exaggerated forks at the rear echo the bifurcated ancestor poles found in village plazas throughout Southeast Asia. On Nias, effigies wearing the forked headdress are especially effective in averting disease that might result from the misbehaviour of individuals.

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