Indonesian villagers thought they had been blessed when a beautiful doll turned up on a beach, believing it to be an angel fallen from heaven, only to discover it was an inflatable sex toy.
Rapidly-spreading news of a heavenly offering and fears of possible social unrest that it might spark prompted a police probe.
But detectives who arrived in the remote spot soon punctured the theory that there had been a divine intervention.
“When our officers arrived they saw that the ‘fallen angel’ was just a doll, it was a sex toy,” local police chief Heru Pramukarno told AFP.
Villager Pardin, who like many Indonesians goes by one name, found the doll last month when he was fishing off the remote Banggai islands in central Indonesia, police said.
The discovery came a day after a solar eclipse swept across the area, a deeply spiritual experience in the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country, leading superstitious locals to believe the two events were linked.
Pardin took the partially inflated doll to his home in Kalupapi village. His mother stuffed the doll with fabric and it was given a fresh change of clothes and headscarf every day, and a chair to sit in.
Police decided to investigate after becoming concerned the increasing excitement about the “angel” could lead to unrest.
“We were hearing many stories, such as that the ‘fallen angel’ was crying when she was discovered,” Pramukarno said.
The problem, it seemed, was the remoteness of the Kalupapi.
“They have no Internet, they don’t know what a sex toy is.”
After investigating, officers confiscated the doll and took it to the local police station, a move they said was to stop false rumours from spreading.