Lot: 7

Male ancestor figure "adu zatua

Indonesia - Nias

Provenance Size Starting price / estimated price
William Downing Webster, Bicester, England
Pitt Rivers Museum, Farnam, Dorset, England (1896)
H: 8.1 inch 3500 EUR / 7000 EUR

wood, fabric, old collection label "Sumatra. BT. OF Webster. 1896. P. 1343.", base In the old inventories of the Pitt Rivers Museum there is a drawing of the present figure with the note "1896. Bought of Webster". (Rethinking Pitt-Rivers, The database for Pitt-Rivers's "Second" Collection, Vol. 4, p. 1343, Cambridge University Library (MS Add. 9455) W. D. Webster (1863-1913) started collecting in the early 1890s. He became a dealer in ethnographic antiquities and published the objects with lithographic drawings in catalogues for the first time. Augustus Henry Lane-Fox Pitt-Rivers (1827-1900) began collecting ethnographic objects soon after 1897. A large part of them he bought for inclusion in a large museum on his private estate at Farnam, Dorset, England. The collection passed by descent through his son, Alexander Lane Fox Pitt-Rivers to his grandson, Captain George Pitt-Rivers (1890-1966) and his wife Stella Howson-Clive (Pitt-Rivers). The museum closed in 1964 and the collection was sold. The people of Nias believed that the spirits of the dead possessed supernatual powers and wer capable of influencing the living in a positive or a negative way. Therefore, these wooden "adu zatua" figures were created to provide a home for the spirits of the deceased. The figures were revered and received offerings. They served as a medium to get into contact with the ancestors. Small "adu zatua" figures, like this one, were lashed to horizontal supporting bars, which were fixed to the wall in the main room of the house. Whenever a member of the family died, a new image was added, so that rows of figures were created. On the anniversary of the death of each of them, offerings were made to the deceased.


Rethinking Pitt-Rivers, The database for Pitt-Rivers's "Second" Collection, Vol. 4, p. 1343, Cambridge University Library (MS Add. 9455)