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Bruce Frank Primitive Art
208 W 83rd St NYC
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Coffin End

Kenyah-Kayan, Dayak, East Borneo, Indonesia
19th Century or before

This end from a coffin is skillfully carved and a dynamic example of Dayak art. The Aso is carved in an aggressive position with wide open legs and arms and a mouth showing its sharp teeth. In the past, the Dayak created wooden coffins for high ranking members of their tribe that had anthromorphic figures carved on both the ends of the coffin. These figures were typically carved in an aggressive and animated style. It is thought this posture both served to protect the deceased and actually transport the coffin to the upper spirit world. These coffins were stored in small caves on cliffs. This coffin end is carved from very hard iron wood, and its patina is typical of wooden sculptures found in these burial caves.

Coffin End

Kenyah-Kayan, Dayak, East Borneo, Indonesia
19th Century or before

This end from a coffin is skillfully carved and a dynamic example of Dayak art. The Aso is carved in an aggressive position with wide open legs and arms and a mouth showing its sharp teeth. In the past, the Dayak created wooden coffins for high ranking members of their tribe that had anthromorphic figures carved on both the ends of the coffin. These figures were typically carved in an aggressive and animated style. It is thought this posture both served to protect the deceased and actually transport the coffin to the upper spirit world. These coffins were stored in small caves on cliffs. This coffin end is carved from very hard iron wood, and its patina is typical of wooden sculptures found in these burial caves.