This hand carved medicine bottle is made out of buffalo bone and wood and comes from the island of Sumba in Indonesia.
(ancestral spirits) who some Sumbanese believe live among us in symbolic objects. The human face is an invitation to the Marapu to move inside the bottle.
The bottles have different motifs engraved on the bone.
The ones depicting a man meant that the bottle was made for a king
while all other motifs were made for the common man.
Marapu is an animistic/ancestral religion practiced in some parts of Sumba. The Marapu are believed to be the occupants of the eternal heaven, living in couples and leading a similar existence to men.
One of these couples are believed to be the ancestor of the Sumbanese.
The carving motifs on the bottles vary slightly from piece to piece.