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Wooden statue, Nicobar Islands, India, 1880-1925

This carved and painted wooden kareau figure, or ‘scare-devil’, is from the Nicobar Islands, India. It was made by a menluana, a ritual specialist or healer who communicated with the spirit world, and was set up outside a sick person’s house in order to scare and drive away the bad spirits thought to be causing disease. The statue was presented to the Wellcome collection by a resident of the Andaman Islands, which neighbour the Nicobar Islands.

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Glossary: statue

A sculpture in the round representing human or animal figures or small figure groups; a statuette is a smaller sculpture.