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Figure (Hampatong) Representing a Male and Female

Arts of the Pacific Islands

Hampatong is a general term for a statue or figure. These figures might have served a number of different purposes. In this instance, since both male and female images are depicted, it is likely that they represent a mythical ancestral couple. Such ancestors are believed to protect a village by warding off evil spirits. Dayak art is distinguished by the incorporation of many, floral motifs and curvilinear designs, as seen on the hats that these figures are wearing.

MEDIUM Wood, pigment
  • Place Made: Borneo, Indonesia
  • DATES early 20th century
    DIMENSIONS 53 3/8 in. (135.6 cm)  (show scale)
    CREDIT LINE Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Gustave Schindler
    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Wooden figure of a male and female, carved from one massive block of wood, standing back to back with arms intertwined. The right arm of the female is bent at the elbow and her hand touches a human figure carved in relief on her abdomen. Her left arm curves back touching the male genitalia on the other side. The male's left arm is bent at the elbow and his hand touches a human figure portrayed from the back with one leg raised in relief on his abdomen; his right arm is curved back, touching the female genitalia. Animal heads emerge from under the elbows of the female. A reptilian-like head emerges from between the legs of the small human figure on the male's abdomen. The heads of both figures wear crowns that are decorated with animal (possibly stylized dogs) and foliate motifs. The features of both figures are delicately portrayed: almond-shaped eyes, long thin noses, and small thin-lipped mouths. The entire surface appears originally to have been painted white; presently it has a pale green cast; other small areas of the surface are black. The figures rest on their own round base which is void in the center. Condition: Checking throughout object; some deeper checks on legs of figures. Base cracked in two areas and small part missing at rim on female side. Surface pitting throughout, in part due to old insect boring.
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    CAPTION Dayak. Figure (Hampatong) Representing a Male and Female, early 20th century. Wood, pigment, 53 3/8 in. (135.6 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Gustave Schindler, 79.2.1. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 79.2.1_front_bw.jpg)
    IMAGE overall, 79.2.1_front_bw.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
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    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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