Tutelary figure

Wehea Modang or Pre-Modang peoples
17th century or later
more object details

General Description

The exaggerated brow and elongated jawline on the massive head of this small-bodied figure suggest that it was originally meant to be seen at a height well above eye level. Support for this notion is the post protruding from the figure’s head with two large rectangular holes, the top one of which is fragmentary. Clearly it was attached to or suspended from an architectural structure. The figure probably represents a protective spirit (meta).

This figure was accidentally discovered by two Kenyah when a portion of it became snagged in their fishing nets on a small unnamed tributary off of the upper Telen River. It is an ancient sculpture executed in an archaic style that was created either by the Wehea Modang, to whom the tributary belonged during the early 19th century, or by earlier occupants of the area, as suggested by its radio carbon date (13th century).

Adapted from

Roslyn A. Walker, Label text, June 2013.