2 mar 2011

Tulangan sirimanua from Indonesia

Name: Tulangan sirimanua, wall panel with figure of a slain shaman 
Origin: Taileleu Village (Indonesia
Museum: Dallas Museum of Art
Material: wood, paint, shell, inlay, cloth
Dimensions: height: 69 ¼ in (176 cm)
Reference code:  1999.3
Age: circa 1900
A successful headhunt was celebrated by festivities in the longhouse (uma) and by the carving of an image of the slain victim, which was set into the rear wall of the first interior room, facing the entrance. Visitors to the uma would see the memorial figure as proof of the courage and strength of its inhabitants. This wall panel is one of those memorial figures. The head of the figure is small, but the shell inlay that survives in his right eye suggests a piercing gaze. His splayed hands are enormous. Linear painting on his arms, legs, and torso represent tattoos, which make the body attractive for the soul. The barkcloth loincloth tied about his waist represents what was once the basic garment for men of the area. The washes of red across the neck and along the torso suggest that the figure may be otherworldly. His tattoos are those of people from the northern part of Siberut, where Taileleu people went headhunting. The feathery headdress identifies the figure as a kerei, or shaman. The kerei can see and hear souls, ancestors, and spirits; he can also communicate with them.

© Text and image: www.dallasmuseumofart.org

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