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Balinese people Feline guardian 19th century Place made: Buleleng district, Bali, Indonesia
Materials & Technique: sculptures, wood, coloured pigments wood, pigments
Dimensions: 49.0 h x 22.0 w x 34.0 d cm
Acknowledgement: Purchased 2014
Accession No: NGA 2014.93.1

The hipped roofs of Balinese structures are constructed using a complex arrangement of rafters and posts. It is clear from the large square sockets at the back of each sculpture that these demonic felines, each viciously attacking a large rodent, functioned as bases [sendi] to support and decorate the roof posts of a traditional Balinese building. These two grotesque cats most likely served as the guardians of a communal rice barn [lumbung], a tangible symbol of prosperity and fertility throughout Bali.

Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra