X65.5653 Hornbill figure (kenyalang)

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Object Name: Hornbill figure (kenyalang)

Artist: Unknown

Culture: Iban peoples

Place of Origin: Sarawak, Borneo, Malaysia

Date/Era: 19th to early 20th century

Medium/Materials: Wood, paint, cotton thread, plant material, wool

Dimensions: H: 57.20 cm, D: 86.40 cm, W: 14.00 cm (H: 22.5 in, D: 34 in, W: 5.5 in)

Credit Line: Fowler Museum at UCLA. Gift of the Wellcome Trust.

Accession Number: X65.5653


To the Iban peoples of Borneo, the hornbill is a bird of prophecy and a primary vehicle of communication between the human and spirit worlds. The greatest of all Iban festivals climaxes with the raising of carved and painted hornbill figures perched atop tall poles. As a part of the complex of Iban practices once focused on warfare, the hornbills were metaphorically launched to vanquish the enemy.

Source: Gallery text, Intersections: World Arts, Local Lives, 2006.

See also: Marla C. Berns, World Arts, Local Lives: The Collections of the Fowler Museum at UCLA. Fowler Museum, Los Angeles, 2014.