funeral rites

Funeral rites play a privileged, not to mention primordial role in man’s relationship with what is sacred. 

Through their rich ceremonies they underline the point to which death is present and accepted in non-western societies where the deceased, who will become ancestors, are an integral part of life.

This close relationship between the living and the dead very often passes through a vast exchange system that is symbolic, spiritual and physical all at once and manifests itself through offerings and is embodied in the moulded sculpture, a sign of durability and object of memory.


  • Ceremonial Sculpture

    Ceremonial Sculpture

  • Ancestral Skull

  • Headdress Mask

  • Reliquaire zoomorphe (poisson), crâne

    Zoomorphic (fish) Reliquary, Skull

  • Funeral Effigy

  • Funeral Mannequin

  • Mourner's Mask

  • Funeral Ceremony

  • Bronze Funeral Drum

  • Funeral Statue

  • Anthropomorphic Statues

  • Anthropomorphic Mask

  • Reliquary Guardian Statuette

  • Skull Representation

  • Anthropomorphic Funeral Post

  • Female Figure

  • Funeral Bag

  • Pedestal Bowl, With Zoomorphic Decoration

  • Bowl

  • Funeral Mask

  • Funeral Urn

Headdress Mask

Headdress Mask

Batak Group Headress Mask, Karo Province, Population of North Sumatra, Indonesia, Wood, Crusted Patina Wood, Iron, 47 x 33 x 50 cm,Former Collection of the Barbier-Mueller Museum, Geneva, 70.2001.27.193

In Batak, funeral rites differ from group to the other. Even inside a single village, they vary depending on the deceased social rank. But the death of an individual is never an event that is limited ot the nucleus of the family. It is always an event that involved a laarge number of people who are connected, whether closely or distantly, to the deceased. This kind of mask is a symbol of the gods that nobles claim to be descended from. It is used by the gurus during certain funeral ceremonies and remain in the possession of the official who carries out the rite. The mouth, which is opened into a large smile and shows teeth that have been carved out of wood, the protruding cheekbones, and the protruding forehead are typical Karo traits. The small holes, scattered over the forehead, are where leaes and magical herbs are stuck. The fringed, unblocked ears frame the face. This type of human face mask was designated by the term "toping," which was borrowed from the Javanese mask.