3179: Ancestral Spirit.
Unknown Dayak group. West Kalimantan, Borneo Island, Indonesia.
Hardwood. H: 48" (122 cm). 19th century or earlier.

Eroded sculpture recovered from a river, with mysterious features. It appears the mouth-like hole in the middle of the face was a knot in the tree which may have had a branch extension, perhaps incorporated naturally by the carver to represent a nose, but fell out as the piece shrunk and expanded prior to or after emersion in water. Otherwise, there are no obvious facial features. The curved area in the front, middle torso may represent the waist of the figure, but it may have just served a practical function, such a support for a cross piece as part of a structure. There is a smaller, less obvious curved cut out at the back, lower part of the figure that may represent the back of the knees or ankles, or again served as a structural function. Just below the center cut out, there is a swollen, knot like area. Perhaps it was intended to represent the belly of a pregnant female? Although there is some subtle variation to the width and shape of the "torso", I can find no obvious imagery of arms or legs, so it is possible this was originally just a long post with an implied head, that was used as part of a structure.

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