Bangkalan, Madura, Indonesia
Sled for bull racing tournaments
19th-early 20th century
wood, paint, cotton, wool
214.0 (h) x 179.0 (w) x 359.0 (d) cm
National Museum of Indonesia, Jakarta
Madura is famous for its bull racing tournaments. When competing in the dangerous sport, the jockey perches on a wooden sled, attached between two bulls that charge at great speed. Taking place after the rice harvest, the exciting tournaments that celebrate the success of hunting and herding are a public display of male prowess and were once undoubtedly directed towards fertility and communal prosperity.
An ancient ploughing competition, the event is an occasion for extravagant displays of regalia. This sled takes the form of a menacing fanged naga serpent carved with brightly coloured scales. A row of small creatures appears along its spine. Like many mythical reptiles associated with fertility in Indonesian animist art, elaborate hooks and curls protrude from its head.