| Funerary figure [hampatong]

Middle Mahakam region
Kalimantan, Borneo, Indonesia

Funerary figure [hampatong] 19th century
100.0 (h) x 31.0 (w) x 34.0 (d) cm
National Museum of Ethnology, Leiden


Despite the aggressive appearance of this funerary figure, it has a benign purpose—to protect mortals from troublesome spirits and to appease the dead. Across Borneo, pointed teeth and prominent fangs signify the demonic. This composite creature grasps a reptile in its clawed limbs. Its human face with pointed ears displays extraordinarily long fangs and a hostile protruding tongue. Images such as this were displayed on tall poles at grave sites, near rice fields and at village perimeters to repel danger.

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