Inventory no.: 1974

Borneo Dayak Coconut Sieve


Fine Coconut Shell & Rattan Sieve

Dayak People, Borneo, possibly Tanjung Redeb, Indonesia

19th century

length: 42cm, width of coconut: 15cm

This fine object is both utilitarian and an extraordinary work of art. Most probably from the Dayak people of Borneo, it is a sieve composed of a coconut shell half, delicately pierced, and with rattan and cane mounts and handles.

The outer surface of the coconut shell has been blackened. The shell is pierced with a geometric and floral pattern commonly found throughout Borneo, the design showing Malay-Islamic influence.

The surrounding rattan mounts show accomplished basketry work. These mounts are attached to the shell by further holes that have been drilled around its rim. In turn, the rattan weaving work is attached to a cane handle that wraps around the coconut shell.

The fine rattan plaits that hold the cane to the coconut shell are interwoven intricately. This type of plait work is called

anyam dua among some of the peoples of Borneo. Anyam dua means a 2/2 twill, with interlacing over-two-under-two strands of displacement of one strand per course.

The sieve is in near-perfect condition. Minor signs of wear are apparent to the shell which otherwise is without cracks, repairs or chips.

The basketry work is in perfect condition. The entire object, and especially the woven rattan, has a splendid, rich patina.

Sieves (

ayakan) are used to strain grain, beans or even finer substances such as sago flour. Related sieves with similar basketry work are in the Museum of Tanjung Redeb, East Kalimantan.

The Dayaks are native to Borneo. (Borneo is an island shared between Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei.) ‘Dayak’ is a loose term for over 200 ethnic subgroups that principally populate Borneo’s interior. These subgroups have their own dialects, customs, laws, territories and cultures, even though some common traits are identifiable. Traditionally animist, most today adhere to Christianity and Islam. There are estimated 2-4 million Dayak people in Borneo today.


private collection, UK


Sellato, B., Plaited Arts from the Borneo Rainforest, Nias Press, 2012.

Inventory no.: 1974