Shrine figure of a deity (Baku-Mau)

DATE:
late 19th–early 20th century
MATERIAL AND TECHNIQUE:
Wood
CLASSIFICATION:
Sculpture
DIMENSIONS:
27 1/8 × 3 × 3 1/4 in. (68.9 × 7.62 × 8.26 cm) On mount: 28 × 3 7/8 × 3 1/4 in. (71.12 × 9.84 × 8.26 cm)
DEPARTMENT:
Arts of the Pacific Islands
LOCATION:
Arts of the Pacific Islands - Indonesia and Papua New Guinea, Level 3
CREDIT LINE:
Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Helen Bankston, Sally Brice, Ginny Eulich, Margaret Folsom, Mary Ellen Fox, Betty Jo Hay, LaVerne McCall, Judy Tycher, and an anonymous donor
OBJECT NUMBER:
1983.49

General Description

The divine couple, Baku-Mau and his female consort Lebu-Hmoru, were worshipped as important fertility deities. Their images were carved in wood and adorned with highly prized antique trade beads. The deities generally wore crowns, and some photographs indicate that the crowns were spiked with offerings of pierced coconuts.

This male figure holds two infants close to his torso and positions them to face the outside world in a statement that projects masculinity. In contrast, the missing female counterpart holds two infants who are nursing and looking inward, creating an overall pose considered to be nurturing and quintessentially female.

Excerpt from

Roslyn A. Walker, Label text, 2013.