Si gale-gale (puppet head)

Toba Batak artist(s)

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 202

A unique tradition within Batak sculpture are the puppets known as si galegale. In former times, si galegale appeared at funerals, where they served as stand-ins for the sons of men who had no male children to perform their mortuary rites. Moved by a complex system of internal strings controlled by a puppeteer, si galegale participated in funerary dances alongside the deceased's family. With the aid of moistened balls of moss inside its head, some were even able to shed tears for their dead fathers.

#1760. Puppet Head (Si Gale-gale)

Si gale-gale (puppet head), Toba Batak artist(s), Wood, copper alloy, lead alloy, water buffalo horn, paint, Toba Batak

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