The distinctive posture of this ancestor figure suggests a detachment associated with a trance or deep sleep: its eyes appear closed, the arms hang straight, and the legs seem not to support any weight. On Atauro, ancestor figures were paired in male and female couples, representing a family’s most prominent ancestors. Called _itara__ _after the cords that bind them, the figures were hung from a sacred hook in each house, the status of which was determined by the number of figures affixed to the hook. If something was stolen, the _itara__ _were given offerings of corn, fish, and betel and placed on the threshold in the hope that they would find the thief.
Roslyn A. Walker, PhD, Label text, 2013.