Scare devil

Essential information

Opening times: 
National Maritime Museum, First floor, Traders gallery

These were used to guard Nicobari homes against illness, bad luck and other evil spirits.

When misfortune befell a household, the hentakoi was deemed to have lost its potency and would be discarded, being replaced with a new figure. These discarded 'idols' were collected as souvenirs by visiting sailors.

Painted and incised boards also served a similar function; as time passed and western visitors became more common, Europeans and their ships began to feature alongside traditional designs.