Hampatong Pantak - or- Patong Pantak
territory marker / guardian figure
west Kalimantan, Borneo Island, Indonesia
Often referred to as: Hampatong Pantak - or- Patong Pantak territory marker / guardian figure from the Dayak people
west Kalimantan, Borneo Island, Indonesia

35 inches tall, arm span is approximately 37 inches from tip to tip - It is a newer figure made specifically for the art market (but I like it)

I have wanted one of these figures ever since I first laid eyes on one at the New York Tribal Arts Show in 2005.
The one I saw in New York was an old authentic figure and this one I bought is a more recent version made for the market, but I really enjoy the

Many of the different Hampatong figures have specific names associated with them depending on their purpose or function.

"Hampatong" comes from the Dayak word "patong", which means "statue".

I originally had this statue identified as "Hampatong Polisi" on my website. "Polisi" in the Indonesian language means "Police".
I don't have any reference books in my home library on these figures, so I looked around on the Internet and that is how I came up with the term that
I identified the statue with. Recently I received an email from a person named Nadjir, who is a Dayak Ngaju from central Kalimantan, Indonesia and
he was kind enough to give me the correct identification for this figure which is "Hampatong Pantak".

I was very happy that he took the time to share his knowledge with me and help me to correctly identify this statue and I would like to share his
correspondence with me for people who come to this page. I have changed some of his wording to correct some of the English, but the substance of
his message is still intact.

Dear Sir,
My name is Nadjir, I am a Dayak Ngaju from central Kalimantan, Indonesia.

My purpose to write to you is to correct the word of Hampatong “Polisi” to the proper name as it should be.

Permit me to rewrite again the definition of Hampatong according of our language as a Dayak people.

The hampatong (or hempatong, empatung) & tempatong (or kepatong) is the collective name for Dayak wooden statues.
Most of the Hampatong are figures that portray ancestors and other supernatural guardians following to their function in the Dayak
religious system. Each statue has its own meaning and function. When the people made Hampatong, the sculptor made each detail as it looks alike
was the ancestor before and they will not made the statue only for nothing sense.

Back to the word of “Hampatong Polisi”, the “polisi” or “the police” in Indonesian language means the officer who taking care of the traffic
or crime case. The “polisi” figure are standing straight and wearing the uniform, completed with the hat. We do made statue of “polisi” but to put on
the street. (
see picture 1 below). If a dayak’s sculptor made “Hampatong polisi” it would be a statue that wears the uniform and the hat (see picture 2

The Hampatong that you have and call “Hampatong polisi”, is definitely not a “Hampatong polisi”, because the statue is a naked figure without
wearing the cloth, either the hat. The Hampatong name is “Hampatong Pantak” a figure portray of ancestor in west Kalimantan, which have the
power to protect the village from malevolent spirit. So with all my respect to you, I humbly ask you to correct the name of the Hampatong and kindly
to put only “Hampatong Pantak” instead of “Hampatong Polisi”.

I appreciate your interest to Dayak culture so much and I thank you for your understanding.

(Thank you Nadjir for the correction)
This is picture 1 that Nadjir sent me, it is of a
Hampatong Polisi figure and the photograph is from

It depicts a wooden statue in police clothing placed
along side a street.
This is picture 2 that Nadjir sent me, it is of a Hampatong
Polisi figure and you can see that the statue also has the
clothing of a police officer on it.
This is a new area for me, but in my opinion this particular figure does exhibit pretty good stylistic qualities of these figures compared to the examples
that I have seen in person and online. It is not nearly as beautiful as the one at the New York Tribal Arts Show, but it is one that I could afford and I
doubt that I would ever be able to afford a figure like the one that Robert Dowling was offering in New York. These figures are the ones that initially
sparked my interest in the Lobi figures with outstretched arms (bateba Ti Puo).

I really love the expressiveness in the face on this figure and the wonderful presence with the outstretched arms with the palms pointing up, and also
the general stance of the figure with the bent knees.

It is my understanding, from speaking to a person who has done extensive field research in Borneo on the Dyak people, that old and authentic
examples of these types of figures with the outstretched arms are rare, and they have not run across any in their field research. They said the first
one they ran across was in a museum in Switzerland many years back. It does seem that in recent years these figures have surfaced in the market
and have gained popularity among collectors. The figure I bought shown below is a more recent carving based on traditional form but It doesn't matter
to me if this figure is older or newer...I love it!

If you come across this page and have more information on these objects that you'd like to share, I'd love to hear from you!
Email me through my
Contact Me page

Reference articles on the art of Borneo (in a new window)
Examples and information of old figures for reference purposes
Above is the figure that I saw at the New York Tribal Arts Show in May of 2005 that sparked my interest in these particular figures
as well as my eventual interest in the Lobi bateba Ti Puo figures. This particular figure was in the booth of Robert Dowling who is
a dealer from San Francisco.

It was an extremely wonderful and beautiful piece and I was glad to have the chance to view it in person.
Wood sculpture of territory or protective marker “Patong Polisi”. These particular carvings with attached outstretched arms were placed
near rice fields, villages, and other tribal territories to designate and protect these areas from enemies and malevolent spirits. This male
figure is finely carved and the face has a fierce expression. The arms are elongated, the legs are stout and firmly planted into the
ground. The overall surface shows outdoor wear and is covered with multi-colored lichens. Height: 5’. 19th century to early 20th century.
Kontu/Kantu Dayak, Western Kalimantan, Borneo Island, Indonesia. Asking price $15,000
5 Photos above from:
PANTAK An unusual female version of the classic "Patong Polisi" or territory
marker. The vast majority of these territory markers are male with only one or
two known female examples.

Jan Baum Tribal Arts
This gallery refers to these figures as hampatong figures from South Kalimantan, Borneo.
Longhouse Gallery
Description Female guardian figure with outstreched arms (Hampatong Polisi)
Region SE Asia / Indonesia
Origin Dyak Melawi
Medium Wood, Metal arm bands
Condition Weathered patina
Age pre 1900
Provenance Collected Borneo 1984
Dimensions Height 91 cm
Sales Price £9,000 ($15,517.00 USD)
Figures from the Kalimantan region of Borneo which serve
similar purposes but are somewhat different in appearance.
This object is in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NY


The Ngadju and Ot Danum peoples live along the inland sections of several of the rivers that drain into the southern coast of Borneo.
Like many of Borneo's indigenous peoples, the Ngadju and Ot Danum erect human or animal figures near the entrances to their
dwellings and along footpaths leading from their villages to the river. Known collectively as hampatong, some figures portray ancestors
and other supernatural guardians who prevent dangerous spirits, particularly those bringing sickness, from entering community. Some
hampatong include depictions of luxury goods obtained from coastal Islamic peoples who live in cities near the mouths of Borneo's great
rivers. For centuries the island's indigenous peoples have exchanged forest products, such as aromatic resins, wood, and animal hides,
for imported goods brought upriver by traders. Among the most prized are large earthenware jars, which constitute an important form of
wealth. This imposing hampatong depicts a male figure seated on such a jar. Among the Ngadju/Ot Danum each hampatong is carved
for a specific purpose and personifies a particular ancestral spirit or deity. This figure's elaborate headdress and the replication in wood
of the highly valued jar suggest that a deceased person of high rank is represented. The spirit of the deceased had to temporarily
inhabit the hampatong before it could begin its long and dangerous journey to the next world. In addition to anthropomorphic figures,
images of protective creatures such as tigers, bears, and leopards are also carved for the funerals of important persons. This figure's
tranquil naturalism distinguishes it from other types of hampatong, which are often characterized by such exaggerated features as
bulging eyes or aggressively protruding tongues.
From an ad in TRIBAL magazine in Summer 2003
from the David Pusack Gallery

"An exceptional 19th C. West Kalimantan figure"
Height 96cm

A really interesting old piece.
This figure is in the Tomkins Collection

Guardian figure, hampatong
H. 101 cm
TC 33
Hampatong that portray protective beings often have a prominent protruding tongue. They
were often placed along paths leading to the houses or at village boundaries to ward off evil
spirits and illness. (Capistrano 1994: 29)

Bruce Frank, New York, 2003
This figure is in the Tomkins Collection

Guardian figure, hampatong
H. 119 cm
TC 32
“Many Dayak groups carve anthropomorphic ancestral figures, generally called
hampatong...There is tremendous range in these sculptures, and specific function and
use vary according to ethnic group...the spirits of these ancestors are invoked for
protection. Hampatong are placed in front of long [communal] entrances or other places
where malevolent spirits are likely to appear." (Feldman 1985:118) "Each hampatong
was carved for a specific purpose and personified a particular spirit or deity... the spirit
of the deceased had to inhabit the hampatong before it could begin its long and
dangerous journey to the next world." (Capistrano 1994: 26)

Bruce Frank, New York 2003
This figure is in the Tomkins Collection

Guardian figure, hampatong
H.174 cm
TC 34
Some hampatongs exhibit aggressive facial features like bulging, protruding eyes as in this example.

Bruce Frank, New York 2003
Sarawak - People and History
Little is known about the first inhabitants of Borneo. Human bones some 50,000 years old have been found in Sarawak, but these
almost certainly did not belong to the ancestors of the present inhabitants. The indigenous peoples of Borneo speak languages
belonging to the Austronesian family. The original Austronesians, perhaps originating in mainland Asia, became a maritime people
who, several thousand years ago, began to expand across the Pacific and Indian oceans. Over time they founded hundreds of
nations, and today their descendants can be found on Taiwan and in Malaysia, in the Phillipines and New Zealand, on Madagascar
and Hawaii, and on countless islands in between.

Some three hundred years ago the territory that is now Sarawak came under the dominion of the Sultan of Brunei. Brunei was one of
several Malay sultanates that had been established on the coast of Borneo in the preceding centuries. Although these small states
contolled maritime trade and much of the coast, effective authority did not extend far inland.

When James Brooke, an English trader and adventurer, arrived in Brunei in the 1840's, the state was in decline. Rebellion had
broken out against the Sultanate. Brooke allied himself with the Sultan, using his gunboat to suppress the revolt. In exchange, the
Sultan ceded to him a portion of his territory. Brooke become king, or "Rajah", of Sarawak, and over the following decades, as
Brunei continued to decline, Sarawak annexed most of the Sultanate's remaining territory. Brooke founded a dynasty that lasted until
1941. During this time, Sarawak was an independent country ruled by a white monarchy. Although the Rajahs were British citizens,
Sarawak did not formally become a British colonial possession until after World War II.

When Britain granted independence to Malaysia in 1963, Sarawak (along with Sabah) were included in the new nation. With an area
of 124,000 square kilometres, Sarawak constitutes 38% of the national territory. But while Malaysia has a population of 18 million,
Sarawak is home to only 1.5 million people.

The people of Sarawak fall into 26 distinct ethnic groups or nations, each with its own language. Most of these peoples are
collectively referred to as "
Dayaks". Among these are the Iban, Bidayuh, Kenyah, Kayan, Kedayan, Murut, Punan, Bisayah, Kelabit,
Berawan and Penan. Most of these Dayak peoples came to Borneo thousands of years ago. Malays and Chinese, who arrived more
recently, constitute a large percentage of the coastal and urban population.

Most of the people of Sarawak are sedentary farmers who live in communal longhouses and practice swidden rice agriculture
(shifting cultivation). Of the thousands of people who still led a nomadic existence at the end of the nineteenth century, fewer than
two hundred Eastern Penan continue to live as wanderers. They are one of the world's few surviving societies of nomads. ]
CLICK HERE to see the Indonesian objects in my collection