Gia Rai Arap people
19th-early 20th century
223.0 (h) x 26.0 (w) x 40.0 (d) cm
Musée Barbier Mueller, Geneva
© Musée Barbier-Mueller Photograph: Studio Ferrazzini Bouchet
Long after a death, communities in central Vietnam perform ceremonies to secure the safe passage of the soul to the afterlife. These secondary funerals occur in the village of the dead, located some distance from the living community. Exhumed remains are reinterred in large house-like tombs, surrounded by wooden figures on posts.
The quickly sculpted images of humans, animals and birds include the crouching figure, similar in form and style to the ancestral images of island Southeast Asia. Created solely for mortuary rites, the graves and sculptures are abandoned and left to disintegrate, allowing the living and dead to move on.