Ancestor carvings like these were found in households throughout Nias. They served as reminders of the deceased, and as charms to protect the household. A new image was made when a person died, and this was lashed together with the rest on the right wall of a house. These carvings may be viewed as containers for ancestral spirits. The people of Nias believed that by trapping the last breath of a dying person, the soul could be contained and transferred to the carving.