| Panel of a funerary vault [sandung or salong]

Modang people
central Kalimantan, Kalimantan, Borneo, Indonesia

Panel of a funerary vault [sandung or salong] 19th century
wood, conus shells
169.0 (h) x 108.0 (w) x 9.0 (d) cm
Purchased 1984
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
NGA 1984.1985


Ancestral religions across Southeast Asia call for elaborate mortuary rites. Extravagant secondary funerals accompanied by spectacular art ensure that the soul of the deceased successfully journeys to the afterworld, and ceases to interfere negatively in community life.

In Borneo, large mausoleums [salong or sandung] are constructed to store the bones of deceased aristocrats after secondary burial ceremonies. The end panels of the funerary vaults feature fearsome images intended to ward off spiritual dangers. Created by the Modang people of central Borneo, this salong has bulging eyes of inlaid shell and prominent fangs.

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