New Exhibition ProjectDayak

Dayak. Headhunters of Borneo

Under the cover of one of the world’s oldest rainforests, along the rivers and on the hillsides of a biosphere of incredible diversity, the some 200 ethnic subgroups of the Dayak developed their own very diverse culture. Despite a plenitude of dialects, laws and customs, these disparate tribes shared distinguishing characteristics – profound animist beliefs and headhunting tactics and rituals. The exhibition aims at retracing the history of this incredible culture immersing the audience into this rich culture and equally rich biosphere, a strange, new world for most of the western world.

A very unique exhibition of ca. 100 original artifacts belonging to the Museum of Cultures of Lugano, Switzerland, exploring the immense, mysterious island of Borneo, the third largest island in the world and home to the fierce, independent, headhunter tribes of the Dayaks. The exhibition is one of the first in the world ever dealing with this topic, an extraordinary opportunity to learn about this island, this habitat, these people and their truly singular culture.


  • Dayak: an Historical Review
  • Borneo: Flora, Fauna & Endangered Species
  • The Spirit World: Animist Religious Concepts
  • The Headhunter Culture: Warriors and Rituals
  • The Longhouse and Dayak Tribal Life
  • The Dayak Today


  • Ca. 100 original artifacts
  • Including: sculptures
  • Ceremonial vests and masks
  • Architectural elements
  • Arms
  • Musical instruments.


One of the first exhibitions ever dealing with the incredible and extraordinary culture of the Dayak.



Exhibition Views

Original Artworks


Deity crouching on a gong
19th – 20th century


Sculpture depicting a high-ranking ancestor
19th – 20th century

Group of sculptures depicting various spirits

19th – 20th century


Ceremonial mask
Second half 20th century
Wood, metal, plant fibers, feathers


Ceremonial drum decorated with floral motifs
19th- 20th century
Wood, leather, plant fibers, pigment

Amak Daré

Ceremonial mat used to depose the deceased before burial
19th- 20th century
Rattan, plant pigments

Door section

Decorated in relief with depiction of anthropomorphic divinity, concentric hands and feet in form of ‘dragon-dog.’
Half 20th century


Ceremonial spear
18th-19th century
Wood, metal, horn

Baby carrier, finely carved in relief depicting protective divinity

Half 20th century

Sapuyung daré

Ceremonial Hat
Bamboo, rattan, pigment, hair, buttons
20th century


Ceremonial Pole Depicting a Couple.
19th century

About the exhibition

Download the Exhibition Book

    Contact Us

    Contact Us
    via del Campofiore, 106 - Firenze
    +39 055 6802474

      Contemporanea Progetti Srl – Via del Campofiore, 106 – 50136 Firenze – Italia – Reg. Imprese, C.F e Partita Iva: 04960390484 – Numero REA: FI – 505041 – Capitale Sociale: €. 72.858,00 i.v. – Certificazione ISO 9001:2008