JORAI FUNERARY FIGURE
Central Highlands, Vietnam
79 cm. high
Collected by Philippe Guimiot in 1973 in the Jorai village of Plei Kiep, east of Kon Tum and acquired from him by the present owner in 1975
A Private European Collection
« Des Survivants du Sud-Vietnam », in Connaissance des Arts, September 1975, p.70.
After returning from his time in Africa, Philippe Guimiot made a number of trips to Southeast Asia in the early 1970s; to Indonesia, the Philippines, Formosa and Vietnam. These trips resulted in a number of works of art appearing on the market which were unfamiliar to tribal art collectors at the time. One of the most notable was the funerary sculptures of the Jorai, one of the hill tribes of the Central Highlands of Vietnam. These powerful carvings, most often depicting a human figure in a fetal position, were carved atop posts which surrounded the graves of notable individuals. Following the death and burial of important persons the grave would be surrounded by familiar objects and possessions of the deceased and over a relatively short period daily offerings of food would be left on the grave. Several months or even years after this initial burial phase, when the family had raised sufficient funds to pay for the required sacrificial buffaloes and pigs, a final important farewell ceremony was held which could last up to a week and as part of which carved posts like the present lot were erected around the grave. Following this final farewell ceremony the deceased's spirit was believed to leave the area to join the other spirits in the ancestral forest or ghost village and never to return. At this time the grave was ritually abandoned and was no longer visited by relatives and the carved figure posts were left to return to nature.
For another Jorai post, collected by Philippe Guimiot in 1975, see Sotheby’s Paris, 17 June 2009, lot 58.