9.5 inches x 6. inches
Scrimshaw mask from buffalo skull bone
The Atoni people are an ethnic group on Timor, in Indonesian West Timor and the East Timorese enclave of Oecussi-Ambeno. Their language is Uab Meto.
Atoni legend claims they fled to their present location when Tetum (Belu) princes migrated to inner Timor. The Atoni cultivate corn (maize) and rice, raise pigs, and collect honey, beeswax, and sandalwood for trade. The local political authority is the village headman. Although Christianity was introduced by missionaries after 1910, traditional animism and religious rites of passage, modified somewhat by earlier Hindu influence, continue to be important. The Atoni honor a Lord of Heaven and a Lord of Earth, as well as ancestor spirits and forces of the hidden world. The Timorese people of Indonesia traditionally and ritually kill animals for ceremonies such as weddings and funerals, and as a supplementary food source. True to making the best use of the materials at hand Timor has a long tradition of carving bone and horn to imbibe them with the Atoni’s totemic guardian spirits. Skulls are inscribed and carved for various purposes. Generally, it is to do with the crop success and the general wealth of the owner. Usually, these masks put inside the house believing it would keep bad spirits away. The Dukun, or village shaman, is responsible for timing of rituals to the deities. There are two main bone carving villages high in the mountains of central West Timor who provide the needs of the entire western half of the island.”