DAYAK HAMPATONG, WEST KALIMANTAN, BORNEO, 19th – early 20th CENTURY
The large-ironwood Hampatong statues of the Dayaks, the native ethnic groups inhabiting the forested interior of both the Malaysian and Indonesian side of Borneo, were set up before the entrances of public areas and longhouses (large houses, sometimes over 200 meters long, which could house dozens of family apartments and public spaces for cooking, ceremonies and social life).
Although some of the Hampatong may represent actual deceased personages and could have been described as ancestor figures, their chief purpose seems to have been to ward off malevolent supernatural and enemy forces. Hampatong are also believed to protect sacred areas associated with headhunting and burial grounds where death feasts were held.
The hearth-shaped face, the round eyes and ears and the slender body-type of this object is very typical for these guardian statues. The presence of green lichen all over the body indicates the statue was probably never covered with clothing.
On the head and left shoulder there is a development of grooves detectible. Ironwood is a very hard type of wood, but over time, for sure when exposed to the elements of nature, it can develop grooves. This is a result of the softer parts of the wood wearing away.
161cm high – 31cm wide – 18cm depth
All dimensions are without the mounting