New Ireland Kulap Figure

Artist: Unknown

Culture/People: New Ireland

Place: Melanesia

Media: Limestone or chalk with pigment

Dims: 19.5 x 4.25 x 4 in. (49.5 x 10.7 x 10.1 cm)

Date: Late 19th century

Description: Chalk figures, Kulaps, are believed to represent the recently deceased and were an important part of funerary ceremonies of the people in the southern region of the island of New Ireland, now part of Papua New Guinea. The figures served an important role as the transitional home for the spirits of the departed, who would otherwise disrupt the lives of the living. These figures were ritually destroyed and, furthermore, discouraged in Native ceremonies and art by Christian missionaries. Thus, they are extremely rare: the last Kulap figure was made over 100 years ago.

Exhibited 2013, The Ralph T. Coe Legacy ‘Instruments of Passion” at El Museo Cultural de Santa Fe, NM.

RTC No: OC0052

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Kulap figure

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