Standing charm figure

DATE:
19th century
MATERIAL AND TECHNIQUE:
Dugong tooth
CLASSIFICATION:
Sculpture
DIMENSIONS:
2 × 3/4 × 1/2 in. (5.08 × 1.91 × 1.27 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 Steven G. Alpert and Family
OBJECT NUMBER:
2001.355

General Description

Tiny, yet exquisitely refined, this figure is a tribute to the consummate skill of the carver. Although the original use has long been forgotten, the miniature sculpture was probably a protective charm to ensure well-being and prosperity. Such charms portrayed animals, ancestors, and spirit beings and were cast in various metals and carved from wood, bone, and, in some rare instances, ivory. The elderly woman who owned it kept the sculpture inside the hidden compartment of a palm leaf box used to store betel nuts.

Excerpt from

Roslyn A. Walker, Label text, 2013.