spc2: Portrait Bust of a Chief.

Unknown Group. Indochina (Vietnam, Laos, or Cambodia).
Wood, pigments, coins. H: 22" (55.9 cm), W: 13" (33 cm), D: 7" (17.8 cm).
Protrait bust of an important man or chief, wearing a vest decorated with 1940's Indochine coins (it is possible the coins were added later).
There is a small round hole cut into the corner of the mouth, which might have been used to hold a pipe or cigarette.
Age unknown, but there appears to be a date painted at the base of the figure, indicating 1881. However, the "eights" are not precise enough to be sure.
It is also unclear what the date, assuming it is a date, represents: his birth or death or perhaps his ascension to power?
The sculpture is a very unusual blend of styles. The carving details, including the head and torso proportions, minimalized hands, painted mustache
with double tips, appears to represent a "big man" or chief from a tribal society, likely one of the hill tribes or ethnic minority groups in Indochina.
But, the short cropped haircut and buttoned vest is European, which would indicate influence from the French colonialists.
It is possible the figure was part of a tribal funerary shrine, and the image is of an important deceased chief, who had connections to the colonial authorities.
I welcome comments if anyone has more specific knowledge of this type of figure.

Additional images available, including a close up of the date and the coins.

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