An image of Barkcloth mallet (la'uma solowo)

Unknown Artist

Barkcloth mallet (la'uma solowo)

Not on display
Further information

Unlike many ancestral and animist cultures throughout the Indonesian archipelago, Nias society lacks a strong tradition of textile weaving. While simple woven cloth was produced using back-strap looms on the island, the use of plaindyed barkcloth and imported cotton, which was then embellished with embroidery and appliqué, was far more widespread.

The earliest known textiles of the Austronesian language groups in mainland and insular Southeast Asia were fabricated by beating the bark of trees to produce a felted cloth. Heavy instruments of stone and wood were used to produce various grades of barkcloth, from thick unfinished hides, which provided excellent physical protection, to softer cloth used for refined garments and accessories. This unusual mallet depicts a distinctive male adu image wearing a pronged headdress and clasping a small cup. The figure renders the object decorative rather than functional and was probably carved subsequent to its practical use.

Place of origin
Nias, Indonesia
mid 20th century-late 20th century
30 x 8 x 13 cm
Christopher Worrall Wilson Bequest 2010
Accession number
Christopher Wilson, pre Nov 1986-1996, Sydney/New South Wales/Australia, purchased in Indonesia. Appears in 'Southeast Asian tribal art', an unpublished text by Christopher Wilson, College of Fine Arts, Sydney, November 1986.
Mariann Ford, 1996-Dec 2010, Sydney/New South Wales/Australia, inherited from the estate of Christopher Wilson. Gift to the Art Gallery of New South Wales as part of the Christopher Worrall Wilson Bequest 2010.