Standing guardian figure (tepatung)

Bahau peoples or Pre-Bahau peoples
c. 16th–19th century
more object details

General Description

In Island Southeast Asia, wood sculpture rarely survives in its original setting for more than one or two hundred years. In the late 20th century, however, objects emerged in Kalimantan, in the Indonesian area of the island of Borneo, that seemed to be considerably earlier, deserving of the stylistic designation archaic. They were associated with rivers, with water and mud, an environment that both preserved them and modified them. This figure is one of those sculptures. The indigenous peoples who have lived in this region more recently have erected imposing figural sculptures at the edges of fields, on the banks of streams, at crossroads, and close to the longhouse. The figures serve to guard and protect the community from all manner of evil. This archaic sculpture probably served a similar purpose.

Adapted from

"Standing figure," in_ Dallas Museum of Art: A Guide to the Collection,_ ed. Bonnie Pitman (Dallas: Dallas Museum of Art; New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2012), 114.

Related Multimedia

Collections smARTphone video; Nicole Stutzman discusses a Standing Figure from Indonesia, East Kalimantan, Mahakam River region, Belayan River, Kenyah-Kenyan complex, Possibly Bahau or Bahau-related people, Dayak people (DMA collection 2001.268.McD)
Learn about the Dayak people.
Collections smartphone audio Standing figure, Bahau or Bahau-related people of Indonesia, East Kalimantan, Mahakam River Region, Belayan River, Kayan complex, Possibly; 2001.268.MCD (DMA Collection)