Puppet Head (Si Gale-gale)

Puppet Head (Si Gale-gale)
Puppet Head (Si Gale-gale), late 19th–early 20th century
Toba Batak people, Sumatra, Indonesia
Wood, brass, lead alloy, water buffalo horn, pigment

H. 11 1/4 in. (28.6 cm)
Gift of Fred and Rita Richman, 1987 (1987.453.6)

The present head once formed part of a near-lifesized si gale-gale. Recent analysis reveals it to be a masterpiece of engineering as well as sculpture. It retains a complex internal mechanism controlled by strings, which allowed the figure to protrude a tablike tongue of wood. Flexible pockets of rubber, positioned behind each eye, originally held damp moss or wet sponges, which, when squeezed by another internal mechanism activated by the puppeteer, allowed the figure to weep for its departed parent.

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