Estimated age: 19th century or earlier
H: 112 cm (approx. 3’ 8”)
Provenance: Austrian private collection
The Dayak are the native people of Kalimantan in Indonesia. In the past, the Dayak were feared for their ancient tradition of headhunting practices. Among the Iban Dayaks, headhunting was believed to have originated from meeting one of the mourning rules given by a spirit.
Hampatong are placed in front of communal entrances or other places where malevolent spirits are likely to appear (Feldman 1985:118). Each Hampatong was carved for a specific purpose and personalized to a particular spirit. The spirit of the deceased had to inhabit the Hampatong before it could begin its long and dangerous journey to the next world (Capistrano 1994:26). A striking, large figure carved from heavy ironwood. An eroded sculpture with a great presence.