The best-known metal objects from Sulawesi (Celebes), the large island east of Borneo, are brass pendants (tanjanja), sperpent-form headdress ornaments (sanggori), and small figures of humans and water buffalo, all from the province of Central Sulawesi. The solid brass figures, which were made in male and female pairs, seem to have functioned variously as gifts in marriage negotiations, amulets to ward off misfortune, and fertility charms for a newly married couple. They are often thought to date from the nineteenth century, for the technology of lost-wax casting was reportedly disappearing in that area around 1900.
This figure, which is hollow and cast from a primarily copper alloy, represents an erlier tradition that has not yet been identified. The figure's arms-akimbo pose conveys a timeless self-confidence, while her large flat feet are eminently functional, enabling her to stand alone. The heart-shaped face and circular eyes recall the faces on Dongson-style bronze axes found on the island of Roti in eastern Indonesia. Designs associated with that style, named for the site in the Tonkin region of Vietnam, where the Dongson culture (c. 600 B.C. - A.D. 100) was first identified, are found on artworks throughout Island Southeast Asia, foten on heirloom objects and textiles that embody the traditional animist beliefs of regional cultures.
"Dallas Museum of Art: A Guide to the Collection," page 64