Model of bird

This wooden spirit bird decorated with pigments is carved from soft wood. The body and wings of the bird are carved separately and attached with a wooden peg or iron nail. The bird is freely suspended from a pole or an arch in front of the 'uma' or community house.Spirit birds serve many purposes within a Mentawai society. These birds are made at the community houses during ceremonies to lure ancestral spirits. Once the ceremonies are over, they are suspended from roof beams to safeguard the family. It is believed the birds are used as toys by ancestral souls, who love beautiful objects. Birds are also used as trophies to mark a successful hunt.The Mentawai also known as Mentawei and Mentawi are the native people of the Mentawai islands located in the Indian Ocean in West Sumatra. The islands consist of Siberut, Sipora and North and South Pagai. The Mentawai, whose roots can be traced to the Neolithic period, live a semi-nomadic, hunter-gatherer lifestyle, characterised by animistic beliefs.

20th century
Siberut Island, Mentawai, West Sumatra
Object size: 10.1 x 26.5 x 5.8 cm
Accession No.
Collection of
Asian Civilisations Museum

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