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Lizard Figure (Moko Miro)

Arts of the Pacific Islands

Lizard, human, and avian characteristics merge in these so-called lizard figures. Researchers have advanced many explanations regarding their use. The fact that the legs of of figures like these two form a handle shape suggests they were used as clubs. In addition, the figures may have been held in the hand or worn around the neck by dancers during feasts. Some moko miro were placed in the doorways of houses, eitiher suspended from the roof or set into the ground, to protect the inhabitants from harm. Originally, these figures had inlaid white shell eyes with obsidian pupils.

DATES 19th century
DIMENSIONS 15 3/4 x 3 x 2 in. (40 x 7.6 x 5.1 cm)  (show scale)
CREDIT LINE Museum Expedition 1941, Frank L. Babbott Fund
CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Carved wooden lizard with triangular head, protruding eyebrows and ribs, the crested spinal column with a fan-like termination, abdomen on level with under-jaw and chest, long thin arms extending across the chest, and legs extended to a tapering point
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
CAPTION Rapanui. Lizard Figure (Moko Miro), 19th century. Wood, 15 3/4 x 3 x 2 in. (40 x 7.6 x 5.1 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Museum Expedition 1941, Frank L. Babbott Fund, 41.1277. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 41.1277_SL1.jpg)
IMAGE overall, 41.1277_SL1.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
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