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Nias people Anthropomorphic monument [gowe nio niha] 19th century or earlier Place made: Nias, Indonesia
Materials & Technique: sculptures, stone
Dimensions: 240.0 h x 99.0 w x 16.0 d cm
Acknowledgement: Purchased 2008
Accession No: NGA 2008.930

Spectacular stone monuments were created on the island of Nias to accompany the cycle of major feasts, the number and sumptuousness of which confirmed political status. This striking anthropomorphic gowefigure was commissioned for a feast of merit intended to ratify or elevate the patron’s social and political standing.

Carved in the bold flat style of megaliths and shafts found throughout Nias, this impressive figure is depicted with both arms raised in a gesture of authority. The prominent pectorals and genitalia emphasise the patron’s warlike male qualities of bravery and strength. His great affluence is fortified by the depiction, in stone, of the accoutrements of a Nias nobleman including a gold bifurcated headdress, necklace, bangles and ear studs.

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