JAKARTA • Indonesian villagers thought they had been blessed by an angel fallen from heaven when a beautiful doll washed up on a beach, only to discover it was an inflatable sex toy.
Rapidly spreading reports of a heavenly offering and fears of possible social unrest prompted a police investigation.
Detectives who arrived in the remote spot soon punctured the theory of divine intervention.
"When our officers arrived, they saw that the 'fallen angel' was just a doll, it was a sex toy," said local police chief Heru Pramukarno.
Villager Pardin, who like many Indonesians goes by one name, found the doll when he was fishing off the remote Banggai islands off Sulawesi in central Indonesia, police said.
The discovery in March came a day after a solar eclipse swept across the area, a deeply spiritual experience in the world's most populous Muslim-majority country. This led superstitious locals to believe the two events were linked.
Mr Pardin took the partially inflated doll to his home in Kalupapi village, where it was treated with great reverence. His mother gave the "angel" a change of clothes and a new Muslim headscarf to wear every day, and pictures showed it sitting up in a chair and accompanying locals on a boat trip.
Police decided to investigate after becoming concerned that the increasing excitement about the "angel" could lead to unrest.
The problem, it seemed, was the remoteness of Kalupapi. "They have no Internet, they don't know what a sex toy is, " said police chief Heru Pramukarno.
After investigating, officers confiscated the doll and took it to the local police station, a move that they said was intended to stop false rumours from spreading.
It is not the first time that a sex toy has been mistaken for entirely something else.
In 2012, a Chinese TV station reported a rare mushroom with medicinal qualities had been discovered in a town during drilling for a new well, only for viewers to point out that the object was a sex toy for men.