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Bruce Frank Primitive Art
New York City, NY
+1 917 733 9589

Coffin End

Dayak, East Borneo, Indonesia
19th Century or before

This guardian from a coffin is skillfully carved and a dynamic example of Dayak art. The figure is carved in an animated and aggressive style; it appears to be springing forward away from the coffin it originally terminated. Of note is the creature’s oversized head with large and deeply carved eye sockets.  Its body and arms are carved in high relief, while the head is carved more in the round.  The artist also very effectively incorporated vertically spaced bands of adze marks; which adds dimension and texture to the sculpture.   In the past, the Dayak created wooden coffins for high- ranking members of their tribe that featured anthropomorphic figures similar to this example.  It is thought its animated posture both served to protect the deceased and actually transport the coffin to the upper spirit world. This type of coffin was stored in small caves on cliffs; and it is carved from a very dense hard wood, and its patina is typical of wooden sculptures found in these sacred caves.

Coffin End

Dayak, East Borneo, Indonesia
19th Century or before

This guardian from a coffin is skillfully carved and a dynamic example of Dayak art. The figure is carved in an animated and aggressive style; it appears to be springing forward away from the coffin it originally terminated. Of note is the creature’s oversized head with large and deeply carved eye sockets.  Its body and arms are carved in high relief, while the head is carved more in the round.  The artist also very effectively incorporated vertically spaced bands of adze marks; which adds dimension and texture to the sculpture.   In the past, the Dayak created wooden coffins for high- ranking members of their tribe that featured anthropomorphic figures similar to this example.  It is thought its animated posture both served to protect the deceased and actually transport the coffin to the upper spirit world. This type of coffin was stored in small caves on cliffs; and it is carved from a very dense hard wood, and its patina is typical of wooden sculptures found in these sacred caves.

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