Ancestor figure (itara)

early 20th century

Dallas Museum of Art

Dallas Museum of Art

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.

**Adapted from**

Roslyn A. Walker, PhD, Label text, 2013.

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  • Title: Ancestor figure (itara)
  • Date Created: early 20th century
  • Physical Dimensions: Overall: 19 1/2 x 3 3/4 x 3 3/4 in. (49.53 x 9.52 x 9.52 cm.)
  • Type: Sculpture
  • External Link: https://www.dma.org/object/artwork/4216367/
  • Medium: Wood, fiber, and cloth


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