This resource is part of the Museum Snapshot collection - a collection of smaller resources perfect for starters, plenaries or spare moments to explore something fascinating.
The Dayak people of Borneo believe that a ship like the one pictured here carries the souls of the dead to the afterlife. Their traditional belief is that a 'good' death marks the beginning of the journey to join your ancestors, whose souls were with the bird gods. We can see these ideas in the model.
Young Person's Response to this ObjectThe sheer detail on this ship is astounding, the vibrant colours really bring it to life. This is made even more significant as the ship contrasts greatly with the subject it is based upon; death. - Jordan Keighley
- Ben Thompson, Deputy Headteacher.
- What would your idea of a 'good death' be?
- What can prevent people from having a 'good death' today?
- What do you think is meant by an 'unquiet spirit'?
- What cultures or religions do you know of that have the 'tree of life' as a symbol, and what does it mean?
- There is an orchestra shown on this Ship of the Dead. It came from Borneo, so what kinds of instruments do you think would be in this orchestra?
- Although it's a very long way off, what music would you like played at your funeral?
- What other death rituals from different cultures involve boats? This resource on My Learning about the Egyptians might help.
- We are not told what kinds of materials this Ship of the Dead was made from, but it was probably painted wood. Experiment with making a Ship of the Dead yourself - using paper, card, clay, plasticine or balsa wood. Think about scale, weight, proportion and detail. It could contain things that you would like to take on a journey, not necessarily a death one, but a 'joyful' one.
- (KS4) Pupils can research other death rituals practised by different cultures across the world, and compare and contrast them. In groups pupils can choose to research a particular culture then present their findings to the class. After the presentations, the class can discuss the rituals and try to identify any common themes or trends.
- Use the Google map below to see where the Dayak people of Borneo still live today.