Fragment of sarcophagus

Central-East Borneo
Bahau Dayak
48 × 53 × 51 cm
Contact for Price
Inv. BO.12.055

Fragment of sarcophagus depicting a guardian divinity, whose functions included accompanying the souls of the dead to the after-world and guarding over individuals.

This kind of representation is rare and has always been considered one of the major expressions of Dayak art. Publications such as The Eloquent Dead (p. 105, 111) and Patong (p. 124) present examples of this kind, similar in function and, in the second case, also in the formal appearance of the divinity, whose potency is expressed by the large convex eyes and by the open mouth with sharp fangs.

This fragment of sarcophagus displays a heart-shaped face with large globular eyes, a mouth with two fangs and two spirals on the temples. It is also distinctive for its stylised incisions on the body, probably tattoos, and for the distance between the body and the surface behind it, marked by a contortion of the body itself, from which emanates all of its energy.

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