Shrine object with figure atop a dwelling flanked by two mythological animals

DATE:
19th century or earlier
MATERIAL AND TECHNIQUE:
Bronze (copper alloy)
CLASSIFICATION:
Sculpture
DIMENSIONS:
Height (with base): 7 in. (17.78 cm) Overall: 4 x 2 7/8 x 1 3/4 in. (10.16 x 7.303 x 4.445 cm)
DEPARTMENT:
Arts of the Pacific Islands
LOCATION:
Arts of the Pacific Islands - Indonesia , Level 3
CREDIT LINE:
Dallas Museum of Art, gift of The Nasher Foundation in honor of Patsy R. and Raymond D. Nasher
OBJECT NUMBER:
2008.60

General Description

This bronze casting is composed of three elements. The first is a central crouched figure that probably represents a priest, healer, or fabled ancestor. Each is an intermediary empowered to straddle and navigate the worlds of men, god, and spirits. The second is the object between the figure’s legs, which is a bamboo container, a sword, or a small drum. Each has associations with the spirit world. The third is the building, which features roof finials in the forms of winged water snakes and other mythical animals.

The precise origin and purpose of this venerable object remain to be solved. Two rectangular side lugs on the sculpture suggest it may have been the top of a container or a shrine-like object that was raised on two stilt-like struts. Its smooth, well-worn surface suggests that it was handled over many generations and may have been ritually washed in lemon juice.

Excerpt from

Roslyn A. Walker, Label text, 2013.