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Tau-tau figure, Toraja people, South Sulawesi, Indonesia
19” tall
Wood, shell
Ex private collection, MA
Ex private collection, FL

This particular figure is small in comparison to Tau-tau figures that we are used to seeing. It is masterfully carved
with great attention to detail and has articulated arms with delicately carved hands in a traditional pose. The
numbers “1879” are carved into the underside of the base of the figure, which was believed to be when the figure
was carved or collected, but this is just speculation as the original owner could not be contacted as to when or
how he acquired the figure.

Since this is out of my area I ran it past an expert in the field since I believed the figure to be too small to be a
traditional Tau-tau figure, and traditionally these figures do not have bases. He stated that the piece was most
likely carved by a real Tau-tau artist because of the quality of the carving, but was most likely made for sale to
outsiders and not made for use within the culture. The head is a little out of proportion to the body and traditional
Tau-tau figures are carved free-standing, and not on a base.

The carving of the articulated arms is extremely well done with amazing details in the hands and feet.

$500
For additional detail, click on any photo below to see the higher resolution version of the image.