Ancestors and Rituals

level2-ancestors-rituals

About the gallery

Ancestors and Rituals examines the ancestral and ritualistic beliefs of traditional societies, including some of the most remote communities in Southeast Asia.

Many societies have a reverence for ancestors. They provide social position within the community. They are guardians of the living. And they ensure fertility to secure future generations. Honouring ancestors is viewed by many as critical for survival.

Rituals and traditions related to fertility — of crops and animals and people — are also present in communities around the world. Abundance is seen as a sign of well being, and rituals are devised to ward off anything that might disrupt harmony.

This gallery focuses mainly on traditional societies of Southeast Asia. Our region is diverse, in geography, ecologies, culture, and languages. Plains, mountains, and islands are home to countless communities — from rice growing farmers to seafaring traders.

The objects displayed here tell stories from the cultures of wet rice kingdoms, coastal trading centres, and the more remote tribal communities. Exchanges with other parts of the world occurred primarily with countries to the north and the west — China, India, the Arabic countries further west, and with Europe. Openness to foreign influences has long been an important motivating factor and a defining characteristic of Southeast Asia and its people.

Highlights

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Makara Processional Vehicle

Europe, 18th century
Kelantan (Malaysia),
late 19th or early 20th century
Nangka wood, zinc, brass, copper plates, 152 x 136 x 71 cm
Acquired with the funds from Friends of ACM through Gala Dinner 2003,
2004-00906

This is rare example of an ornament for a processional palanquin used in ceremonies in the Malay Peninsula. The makara is the vehicle of the Hindu river goddess, Ganga, and is often depicted with parts of crocodile, fish, goat and elephant.

image highlight
Makara Processional Vehicle

Europe, 18th century
Kelantan (Malaysia),
late 19th or early 20th century
Nangka wood, zinc, brass, copper plates, 152 x 136 x 71 cm
Acquired with the funds from Friends of ACM through Gala Dinner 2003,
2004-00906

This is rare example of an ornament for a processional palanquin used in ceremonies in the Malay Peninsula. The makara is the vehicle of the Hindu river goddess, Ganga, and is often depicted with parts of crocodile, fish, goat and elephant.

image highlight

Offering Vessel in the Form of a Hintha Bird

Myanmar, Mandalay,
late 19th or early 20th century
Lacquered and glided wood,
inlaid glass, mirrors,
height 47 cm
1999-07795

Burmese lacquer makers excelled in building up high relief with applied decoration, as seen on this rare, bird-shaped offering vessel. A lacquer putty mixture called thayo was freely modelled or moulded, then stuck onto the surface and embellished with gliding. Semi-precious stones, glass and mirror pieces were in-laid to add value, and in accordance to the taste in Mandalay.

image highlight
Offering Vessel in the Form of a Hintha Bird

Myanmar, Mandalay,
late 19th or early 20th century
Lacquered and glided wood,
inlaid glass, mirrors,
height 47 cm
1999-07795

Burmese lacquer makers excelled in building up high relief with applied decoration, as seen on this rare, bird-shaped offering vessel. A lacquer putty mixture called thayo was freely modelled or moulded, then stuck onto the surface and embellished with gliding. Semi-precious stones, glass and mirror pieces were in-laid to add value, and in accordance to the taste in Mandalay.

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