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Serge Schoffel Art Premier

Aso shrine guardian figure

Kayanic Dayak, Kalimantan
Borneo, Indonesia
18th - 19th century
C14 test by CIRAM n°1220-OA-614Z
H. 36,5 cm ; W. 46 cm

The mythical figures called aso, a kind of dog-dragon (aso meaning “dog” in Dayak languages), were used by the Dayak aristocracy to protect their graves. They were carved on wooden coffins, eyes wide open and looking fierce, frozen in a protective and intimidating expression. Each eye used to be covered in old Chinese ceramic. The pegs that aimed at keeping them into place are still remaining on this artwork.

Aso figures are very often represented in Dayak art. They can be found, among many other things, on shields, brass ear ornaments, and house lintels.

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