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SLAM duho

St Louis Art Museum, St Louis, MO, USA

Accession number 168:1981

Friends Fund and Primitive Art Society Fund in honour of Morton D May

front and back view of wooden figure

The SLAM duho. Dimensions L: 605mm; W: 205mm; H: 168mm.

Documented history

The duho was acquired by Albert Warren Kelsey in 1867-68, during his stay in the Dominican Republic, possibly in the northern Puerto Plata region. Kelsey wrote of the duho’s discovery in a letter dated 1878:

‘It was found at the farthest end of a large cave… by an intrepid explorer of free-thinking proclivities… it bore every evidence of having been undisturbed for untold years. In its immediate vicinity were found fragments of similar images, but made of stone instead of wood; these others had crumbled away by the action of the air; this particular idol being made of wood of the lignum-vitae, indigenous to this island, had withstood the action of the atmosphere better than the friable sandstone out of which others were formed’ (Letter on file at the Missouri Historical Society).

This research has confirmed that the duho is made of Guaiacum, and that it has been carved from a bifurcated branch to achieve the impossible acrobatic position of the figure – its arms out of joint and legs bent in opposite directions.

Studying the sculpture

Further information

More information about this sculpture can also be found on the St Louis Art Museum website.