An image of Bamboo tube (solep) with stopper or charm  (karuhai) in the form of seated figure

Unknown Artist

Bamboo tube (solep) with stopper or charm (karuhai) in the form of seated figure

Other titles:
Medicine container, Medicine container with carved stopper in shape of a seated figure
Not on display
Further information

Decorative bamboo tubes and containers for utilitarian and ceremonial use are widespread in the arts of Borneo. Often present in negotiation and exchange, they were used to hold household items, luxury goods and medicines. Designs vary from depictions of plant motifs and protective symbols to more elaborate narrative imagery relating to the myths and legends of Borneo.While the precise purpose and origin of this tube (‘solep’) and stopper or charm (‘karuhai’) are unknown, the overall design is characteristic of examples created and used by Ngaju shamans of central Kalimantan. Seated atop a lotus-like base, the charm figure would have been carved by a shaman and then attached to the bamboo tube and anointed with offerings of blood or egg.

Place of origin
Borneo, Indonesia
Cultural origin
Ngaju or Iban
19th century-20th century
Ceremonial object
bamboo and wood
36.0 x 3.2 x 3.2 cm :
a - bamboo container, 26 x 3.2 cm
b - wood stopper, 12.1 x 2.5 cm
Christopher Worrall Wilson Bequest 2010
Accession number
Christopher Wilson, pre Nov 1986-1996, Sydney/New South Wales/Australia, probably purchased in Sarawak, Malaysia mid 1970s or1985. Appears in 'Southeast Asian tribal art', an unpublished text by Christopher Wilson, College of Fine Arts, Sydney, November 1986.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.