Sa'dan Toraja people
Tondon village, south Sulawesi, Indonesia
Architectural sculpture for house facade in the form of a long-necked hen
252.5 (h) x 7.0 (w) x 76.0 (d) cm
The Jerome L Joss Collection, Fowler Museum at University of California, Los Angeles
Photograph: Don Cole
The long necked katik is believed to have been present at the creation of the cosmos. She represents Lando Kollong, or She of the Long Neck, the wife of the first rooster, an ancestral being associated with the deities of agriculture and rice. Placed high at the front gable of the great Toraja house, the katik faces north, the direction (along with east) that symbolises life, the upperworld and the rising sun.
From her lofty position—the portal to the sacred upper realm of the house—the katik oversees the community’s life-sustaining rites of agriculture and fertility. The decorative spirals and hooks represent brightly coloured feathers, yet are also reminiscent of the scales of a serpent. Bold concentric circles form the bird’s eyes, mirroring the sun motifs on granary facades.