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Decorative Wooden House Panel from Toraja, Sulawesi (circa 1900-1920)


SKU 0267

A decorative wooden house panel from Toraja, Sulawesi, Indonesia (circa 1900-1920). An intricate wooden carving from the traditional homes, or tongkonan, of the Toraja people. The wooden latch would be on the outside of the house and used to secure the panel shut. The pigments on the piece are sourced from common materials; black from soot; white from lime; red and yellow from coloured earth; and palm wine is used to strengthen the colours. The buffalo symbol carved into the panel represents prosperity and ritual sacrifice. Commensurate with its age (over 100 years old) and use, it is in fair vintage condition showing uneven surfaces, cuts, nicks, blemishes with faded wood and pigments. To appreciate the aesthetics and condition of the work, please carefully view the accompanying photos to this listing. Upon request a video of the piece can be provided.

Common to Toraja of all religions is the cultural centrality of the tongkonan as ancestral homes. The homes are the focus of family identity and tradition, representing the descendants of a founding ancestor. Gables and the outside walls of tongkonan are often decorated by red, black, and yellow coloured wood, with patterns carved into it. Most carvings on tongkonan represent prosperity and fertility with the individual designs represent what is important to the particular family, some also represent the social status of the family associated with the tongkonan.


H 51 cm / 20.1"

W 31 cm / 12.2"

D 9.5 cm / 3.7" (including latch piece)