Here is What You Have Been Given

“They’re in love. Fuck the war.”
― Thomas Pynchon, Gravity’s Rainbow

Dallas Museum of Art Dallas, Texas

Dallas Museum of Art
Dallas, Texas

The old couple, carved from the earth like the first man, sit there, decade after decade, while people walk by and stare at them. It’s been going on so long, they are getting pretty sick of it. It shows in their faces.

“There is an hour when you realize: here is what you have been given. More than this, you won’t receive. And what this is, what your life has come to, will be taken from you. In time.”
― Joyce Carol Oates, Wild Nights!: Stories About the Last Days of Poe, Dickinson, Twain, James, and Hemingway

When the Pretty Women Walk Over My Grave

“It’s not what I’d want for at my funeral. When I die, I just want them to plant me somewhere warm. And then when the pretty women walk over my grave I would grab their ankles, like in that movie.”
― Neil Gaiman, American Gods

Funerary Figure (tau-tau) Dallas Museum of Art Dallas, Texas

Funerary Figure (tau-tau)
Dallas Museum of Art
Dallas, Texas

Dallas Museum of Art
Dallas, Texas

(label text)
Funerary figure (tau-tau)
Indonesia: South Sluawesi, Sa’dan Toraja People
19th century or earlier
Wood
The Eugene and Margaret McDermott Art Fund, Inc. 1980.2 McD

The Toraja carve tau-tau, smaller than life-size funerary figures, to commemorate the deceased when a high-ranking funeral is held. Only members of the highest-ranking aristocracy are permitted to have permanent tau-tau. This unusually small funerary figure appears to be archaic in style and probably predates even the oldest effigies seen beside Toraja tombs today.

The bun or hair knot at the back of the head of this tau-tau indicates that it represents a female. Her mouth is open and may remind one of The Scream, a modern painting by Edvard Munch. The expression is not precisely understood, but it may have been meant to capture bearing of an authoritative aristocratic woman accustomed during her lifetime to public speaking and giving orders, as this tau-tau appears to be doing