Male Funerary Figure (Tau-tau, Bombo di Kita)
Arts of the Pacific Islands
57 x 7 1/2 x 7 in. (144.8 x 19.1 x 17.8 cm)
This item is not on view
Purchased with funds given by Frieda and Milton F. Rosenthal
The object is an armless human figure constructed of two parts of wood. The head and neck sit on the shoulders with a dowel that can be removed from the body. Dowel holes for the arms are evident on the shoulders indicating that the figure originally had arms which were missing at the time of purchase. The proper front half of the right foot is also missing as well as the genitals. The object is in good and stable condition. There are insect holes, checks, and cracks in the wood overall. There are two large holes on the face on either side and one hole on the proper right side at the waist. A large opening in the back indicates that a large dowel used to secure the head to the torso.
From catalogue card:
Standing light brown wooden male figure (a funerary effigy called a "tau tau") carved in two parts: head and body. The carving style is relatively naturalistic. (a) The head has finely carved facial features and carefully delineated ears. Brows are indicated, eyes are almond shaped and slightly recessed, the nose thin and fine with nostrils indicated, and a carefully incised mouth. There are two round depressions on the face, one on right side near mouth, the other on left near the ear. There are traces of resin which held the shell inlay, now missing, in the eyes. The neck is round and extending down from it is a short post which fits into the body of the figure. (b) The body is carved relatively flat, but the legs are will modeled with knees indicated. There are two pierced square lugs, one under each foot. Genitals are indicated, however, parts have been cut away. The arms, which were also carved separately, are missing, but the holes into which they would have been pegged are visible. There is a large opening at the back of the figure through which the head could be turned when in place.
Condition: Check extending from under chin down the front of the post. Light checking on the face. Traces of pigment on face. Check from top of head down side behind right ear into neck area. Surface pitting on back of head. Void on right side of torso. Pitting on back of legs, checking on buttocks. Void on inside of left leg, two voids on front and inside of right leg, surface loss on middle of right thigh and void on inside of upper right thigh. Checking on front of left leg and left foot. Right foot missing. Evidence of wear on both square shaped lugs with considerable erosion on right lug.
Received with modern wooden base with openings into which lugs fit under feet.
Not every record you will find here is complete. More information is available for some works than for others, and some entries have been updated more recently. Records are frequently reviewed and revised, and we welcome
any additional information you might have.