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Lizard Figure (Moko Miro)

Arts of the Pacific Islands

Lizard, human, and avian characteristics merge in these so-called lizard figures. Researchers have advanced many explanations regarding their use. The fact that the legs of of figures like these two form a handle shape suggests they were used as clubs. In addition, the figures may have been held in the hand or worn around the neck by dancers during feasts. Some moko miro were placed in the doorways of houses, eitiher suspended from the roof or set into the ground, to protect the inhabitants from harm. Originally, these figures had inlaid white shell eyes with obsidian pupils.

MEDIUM Wood, shell or bone
DATES 19th century
DIMENSIONS 16 x 2 x 1 3/4 in. (40.6 x 5.1 x 4.4 cm)
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
CREDIT LINE Museum Collection Fund
CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Ancestral figure, half lizard half man, polished wood; kept wrapped and unwrapped for ceremonial purposes Condition: good
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