Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Ceremonial Object in the Shape of an Ax

Bronze and Iron Age
ca. 100 B.C.–A.D. 300
Indonesia (Sulawesi)
H. 41 3/8 in. (105.1 cm); W. 26 1/2 in. (67.3 cm)
Credit Line:
Purchase, George McFadden Gift and Edith Perry Chapman Fund, 1993
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 244
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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