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Figure (Kareau)

Presumed by scholars to be a mythological being, this figure with a turtle carapace on its back offered protection from malevolent spirits. Some of the distinctive characteristics of Nicobar Island sculpture include separately carved arms, inlaid shell eyes, and square-cut teeth.

Catalogue Description:
Carved wooden figure with outstretched arms, open mouth and bent knees. The eyes are inlaid with shell and the lips as well as beard show traces of red paint. The figure is carved with a shell-like covering on its back and a hat which resembles a helmet. Its open mouth reveals a double row of square-cut teeth and a protruding tongue. The Nicobarese used the figure to scare away evil spirits. It is an extremely rare example of an art style whose only other representations occur in the collections of the British Museum. Condition: good. Left arm is loose at socket. Crack on left side of hat. Crack above each arm and down each side. The excellent condition of this sculpture is evidenced by the traces of original paint remaining on the face as well as the original shell-inlaid eyes.


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