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Early 20th C. Ifugao Wood Guardian Figure - 45" Tall

Southeast Asia, the Philippines, Luzon, Ifugao, ca. early to mid 20th century CE. A well-preserved example of a bulul, a hand-carved wooden figure made to protect the rice crop. He has a simple form: a standing anthropomorphic figure with an oval face, broad shoulders, and a slim body. It stands atop a flat base that has an extending, rectangular spike below it. Its hands are crossed over his chest. The hands and feet are relatively small compared to the face and its features, which include wide eyes, a triangular nose, and a small, straight mouth. This figure represents the foremost tradition of anthropomorphic sculpture from the indigenous people of the Philippines. Size: 4.25" W x 45.15" H (10.8 cm x 114.7 cm); 46.75" H (118.7 cm) on included custom stand.

Art in Ifugao is not just decorative, but also crucial to the well being of the community. Men carve sculptures like this one, and women weave colorful textiles. Bulal, carved from a single piece of wood and representing the human body in a stylized form, are often in male and female pairs, but some, like this one and the example linked to below from the Art Gallery of New South Wales, are androgynous. Bulul are ritually consecrated with pig or chicken blood, and then placed into rice fields and granaries, where they function as guardians.

See a similar example at the Art Gallery of New South Wales: https://www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au/collection/works/219.2005/?tab=about and another at the Metropolitan Museum of Art: https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/626371

Condition: Expected weathering on wood surface, with some shallow surface cracks. Loss to tip of nose, but otherwise very well preserved.

Provenance: private Hawaii, USA collection; ex Westermann collection, Germany

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