Crafting Ancestral Stories: Mah Meri Spirit Carvings overview photo

Crafting Ancestral Stories: Mah Meri Spirit Carvings

  • Duration:Temporary
  • Location:Whitten Featured Object Case


A recent donation of Mah Meri carvings is on display in the Featured Objects Case on the second floor balcony through January 14.

The Mah Meri is one of the 18 ethnic groups of Orang Asli, or "original people," of Malaysia, with a more a more specific association to Carey Island. They are animists, believing that everything has a soul that originates from their ancestors and influences all aspects of their life.

One of the distinct aspects of the Mah Meri culture is their specialization in woodcarving. Known as moyang, the carvings represent ancestral spirits—good, bad, and neutral. These figures communicate with ancestral spirits, acting as a physical “home” for the spirits and being used for worship, storytelling, and curing rituals.