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Bruce Frank Primitive Art
New York City, NY
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Magic Amulet

Dayak Tribe, Borneo, Indonesia
Early 20th Century

Provenance: Old New York collection

Dayak Magic amulets come in many forms and are made from many mediums. This particular amulet is derived from a naturally shaped branch or root and takes the form of a standing male figure.  The root’s natural shape has been modified with a carved head at the top, and on the branch’s extensions, hands and feet have been fashioned.  Also in between the legs at the bottom, a penis has been carved where there could have been a knot in the wood.  According to H. Ling Roth in, “The Natives of Sarawak and British North Borneo”, natural objects were amongst the most powerful and revered charms a Dayak tribesman could own. It was believed that curiously shaped roots and branches which closely resembled important beings and creatures in Dayak culture; were actual gifts from the Gods. This charm has great age and a well handled encrusted patina. It’s a wonderful and idiosyncratic sculpture to behold.

Magic Amulet

Dayak Tribe, Borneo, Indonesia
Early 20th Century

Provenance: Old New York collection

Dayak Magic amulets come in many forms and are made from many mediums. This particular amulet is derived from a naturally shaped branch or root and takes the form of a standing male figure.  The root’s natural shape has been modified with a carved head at the top, and on the branch’s extensions, hands and feet have been fashioned.  Also in between the legs at the bottom, a penis has been carved where there could have been a knot in the wood.  According to H. Ling Roth in, “The Natives of Sarawak and British North Borneo”, natural objects were amongst the most powerful and revered charms a Dayak tribesman could own. It was believed that curiously shaped roots and branches which closely resembled important beings and creatures in Dayak culture; were actual gifts from the Gods. This charm has great age and a well handled encrusted patina. It’s a wonderful and idiosyncratic sculpture to behold.

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