Funerary figure (tau-tau)
- Sa'dan Toraja people
- 19th century or earlier
The Toraja carve tau-tau, smaller than life-size funerary figures, to commemorate high-ranking deceased. Only members of the highest-ranking aristocracy are permitted to have permanent tau-tau. This unusually small funerary figure appears to be archaic in style and probably predates even the oldest effigies seen beside Toraja tombs today. The bun or hair knot at the back of the head of this tau-tau indicates that it represents a female. The expression is not precisely understood, but it may be meant to capture the bearing of an authoritative aristocratic woman accustomed during her lifetime to public speaking and giving orders, as this tau-tau appears to be doing.
Roslyn A. Walker, Label text, 2013.