Standing guardian figure (tepatung)
- Bahau people or Pre-Bahau people
- c. 16th–19th century
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.
"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.