Ceremonial Object in the Shape of an Ax

Period: Bronze and Iron Age

Date: ca. 100 B.C.–A.D. 300

Culture: Indonesia (Sulawesi)

Medium: Bronze

Dimensions: H. 41 3/8 in. (105.1 cm); W. 26 1/2 in. (67.3 cm)

Classification: Metalwork

Credit Line: Purchase, George McFadden Gift and Edith Perry Chapman Fund, 1993

Accession Number: 1993.525

Description

This remarkable ceremonial object, a conceptual as well as technical tour de force, almost certainly functioned as a percussive instrument to be suspended and struck. Striations on the flanged neck, resembling the raised markings of crocodile skin, are combined with lozenge patterning and may have helped secure the rope from which the instrument was hung. An anthropomorphic face with spiral banding and a sawtooth pattern appear on the reverse. The object bears comparison with the so-called Makassar Axe in the National Museum of Indonesia, found in southern Sulawesi a century ago.

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