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Gable Figure (Dilukai)

Date:
late 19th–early 20th century
Geography:
Republic of Palau, Caroline Islands
Culture:
Belauan
Medium:
Wood, paint
Dimensions:
H. 25 11/16 x W. 38 x D. 7 7/8 in. (65.2 x 96.5 x 20 cm)
Classification:
Wood-Sculpture
Credit Line:
The Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Collection, Gift of Nelson A. Rockefeller, and Purchase, Nelson A. Rockefeller Gift, 1970
Accession Number:
1978.412.1558a-d
  • Description

    The Belau archipelago comprises one large and numerous smaller islands north of New Guinea. In Belauan society, men are grouped according to age and status. Until the mid-twentieth century, each group had a separate men's house in which they spent most of their time. Men's houses were impressive structures with high pitched roofs and large triangular gables, decorated with carvings and paintings.
    The interior beams and gable planks were adorned with incised and painted images depicting scenes from local legends. Female figures such as this one were often placed above the entrance to the men's house. The figures depict a legendary woman named Dilukai whose excessive promiscuity caused her angry father to tie her in an exposed position to warn village women to be more chaste. Ironically, men's houses were frequently home to prostitutes sent from other villages to earn wealth for their families.

  • Provenance

    Dr. Augustin Kraemer, collected 1908–1910; Linden-Museum, Stuttgart, Germany; [Everett Rassiga, New York, until 1970]; The Museum of Primitive Art, New York, 1970–1978

  • See also
    What
    Where
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History
    MetPublications
310454

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