Ancestor figure


Nationaal Museum van Wereldculturen

Nationaal Museum van Wereldculturen

There is no unanimity of opinion on the rituals in which the uli figures were used, but we do know that it concerned a year-long cycle with many smaller festivals. The centrepiece was a death ritual for an important clan chief with a high status. In the beginning of the cycle, the skull of the deceased was reburied at the cult location of the men, where the uli were set up. A second smaller festival of the cycle served as the preparation for the arrival of the uli, each of which was given its own house. The final festival was the time when the skull of the deceased was burned. Another version states that the head of the deceased was separated from the body and reburied between the roots of fast-growing plants. At a certain moment, perhaps when the plant flowered or came into bloom, the skull was dug up, modelled and offered to the uli. The uli figure, in essence, is probably the depiction of the fertility and creative power of a primeval creature.

101 x 21 x 23cm (39 3/4 x 8 1/4 x 9 1/16in.)
incl pin: 126,5 x 30 x 28cm (49 13/16 x 11 13/16 x 11in.)
pin: 25cm (9 13/16in.)

Source: collectie.tropenmuseum.nl

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  • Title: Ancestor figure
  • Date: 1/1926
  • Location: New Ireland (province)