This stylised figure, probably male, terminates in a hollow peg which may have been designed for inserting into a pottery vessel or a mount of some sort. The large perforated ear lobes are broken. It is reported to have come from south Sulawesi, and there are some parallels there, though not close ones, among the terracotta, wood and stone figures which probably represent ancestors. Small terracotta figures have been found attached to the lids of funerary vessels, such as the famous scene of two men in a canoe from Manunggul Cave in the Philip-pines (Fox, 1970: frontis.), and the head from Ulu Leang 2 burial cave in South Sulawesi (Glover, 1976: fig. n). Free-standing highly schematic terracotta figures and heads were collected by Kruyt (1938) from Napu in Central Sulawesi and are now in the Tropen Museum in Amsterdam (cat. nos. 817-9).
A thermoluminescence test undertaken in 1986 at the Daybreak Laboratory, Guilford, Connecticut, states that this figure was last fired between 900 and 1250 years ago. A clean break to the neck has been repaired by a former owner.
Entry taken from Robert and Lisa Sainsbury Collection 3 volume catalogue, edited by Steven Hooper (Yale University Press, 1997).