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2006/101/2 Pig-trap charms (tuntun) (3), ironwood, made by the Iban people, Sarawak, Malaysia, 1860-1890. Click to enlarge.

Pig-trap charms (tuntun)

Made
These three pig-trap charms are known as tuntun, which literally means 'at the right height' and were used by the Iban people of Sarawak to set the trip cord of a spring trap at the best height for catching wild pigs. Tuntun were traditionally carved by the Iban men from ironwood, a hard durable wood that withstands the tropical climate. Today tuntun are carved from from a variety of woods, not the traditional ironwood, for the souvenir market.

The Iban, although they converted to Christianity, maintained strong links to their traditional beliefs and the carving of a tuntun was at the same time both a practical and a mystical skill. Much effort was expended to ensure the beauty of the stick because of the symbiosis between its beauty, its efficacy and the appreciation of it as a work of art. Highly valued for their power to attract pigs, tuntun were not left in the ground after setting the trap but were displayed just inside the long house so that visitors could see and admire them. It was believed that a well-carved tuntun, with the power to attract human attention, would also have the power to attract pigs.

Summary

Object No.

2006/101/2

Object Statement

Pig-trap charms (tuntun) (3), ironwood, made by the Iban people, Sarawak, Malaysia, 1860-1890

Physical Description

Pig-trap charms (tuntun) (3), ironwood, made by the Iban people, Sarawak, Malaysia, 1860-1890

Three pig-trap charms or tuntun carved from ironwood. They consist of pointed sticks of varying lengths with a carved seated figure with bent knees and arms and their hands resting on their chins at the top. Each seated figure sits on a small, square platform.

Production

Notes

The pig-trap charms (tuntun) were made by the Iban people in Sarawak, Malaysia in the late 1800s.

Tuntun typically feature a carved sitting figure at the top of the stick with knees bent up and elbows on knees supporting the chin. They were traditionally carved by Iban men from ironwood (belian), a hard durable wood that withstands the tropical climate. Although the Iban converted to Christianity, they maintained strong links to their traditional beliefs. The carving of a tuntun was at the same time both a practical and a mystical skill. Much effort was expended to ensure the beauty of the stick because of the symbiosis between its beauty, its efficacy and the appreciation of it as a work of art.

History

Notes

Pig-trap charms, or tuntun (which literally means 'at the right height', were used by Iban men to set the trip cord of a spring trap at the best height for catching wild pigs. Tuntun were highly valued by the Iban for their power to attract pigs; they were never left in the ground after setting the trap, but were displayed just inside the long house so that visitors could appreciate their beauty. The Iban believed that a well-carved tuntun which had the power to attract human attention, would also have the power to attract pigs.

Collected in Sarawak by Alastair Morrison who lived there from the late 1940s to late 1960s; lent by him to the Powerhouse Museum for the exhibition Tradewinds: arts of Southeast Asia in 2001 and given to the Museum for the collection at the conclusion of the exhibition.

Source

Credit Line

Gift of Alastair Morrison, 2006

Acquisition Date

28 July 2006

Cite this Object

Harvard

Pig-trap charms (tuntun) 2020, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 19 October 2020, <https://ma.as/359452>

Wikipedia

{{cite web |url=https://ma.as/359452 |title=Pig-trap charms (tuntun) |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=19 October 2020 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}

Incomplete

This object record is currently incomplete. Other information may exist in a non-digital form. The Museum continues to update and add new research to collection records.