Artists of the Austral Islands created delicate fly whisks with handlesadorned with stylized human figures that likely portray ancestors or othersupernatural beings. This work depicts two highly stylized male figureswho share a single teardrop-shaped body. The peg-like projections on theforeheads likely represent the ornamental topknots of hair formerly worn byAustral Islands men. Such finely crafted fly whisks, although functional, likelyalso served as symbols of chiefly status. Tipped with brush-like bundles offiber, they may have been used, like ordinary fly whisks, to keep insects fromalighting on food, humans, or objects. However, the brush at times includespieces of shell that rattle when in use, and it is possible the objects wereceremonial rattles, employed to clear supernatural rather than physicalimpurities from sacred people or places.