Ceremonial String Winder

Probably Kisar Island

Not on view

Boats play a central role, both physically and symbolically, in the arts and cultures of the peoples of Maluku Tenggara in eastern Indonesia. One of the region's most distinctive art forms was the ceremonial string winder, which was used in a number of areas. Crowned with carved finials depicting important ancestors, the central portion of the winders served as spools for ceremonial measuring cords, used to determine the correct dimensions of boats. The winders were also used to plot the layout of houses, which were seen metaphorically as ships. Both boats and houses were considered symbolically female, although each also had a male element whose presence symbolized the union of male and female cosmic forces. The figures on many string winders are female or of indeterminate gender. However, some, as the example on view here, appear to portray male subjects.

Ceremonial String Winder, Wood, Probably Kisar Island

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