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Minangkabau people Ceremonial container in the form of a crab 19th century Place made: Sumatra, Indonesia
Materials & Technique: sculptures, ceremonial objects, gold, cinnabar gold, cinnebar, repoussé, filigree
Dimensions: 8.4 h x 11.4 w x 1.1 d cm
Acknowledgement: Purchased 2006
Accession No: NGA 2006.728

The Minangkabau are a matrilineal society governed by adat (customs, rules, beliefs and etiquette). While retaining this traditional form of organisation since the 16th century, they have also been strongly Islamic. This golden container may have originally been used as a receptacle for lime, part of the paraphernalia associated with ceremonial betel chewing. Such objects are a means of displaying wealth and splendour, as well as an established part of adat, in which betel nut offerings are important.

Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2011
From: Asian gallery extended display label