Tribal Art & Antiquities - 19 Sep 2018


A New Ireland kulap figure

£6,000 - £8,000

Papua New Guinea
chalk with pigment decoration, the male standing figure with his hands together on the abdomen and with a parted coiffure with parted hatched decoration,
48.5cm high.

Christie's, London, Important Tribal Art, 25th June 1984, lot 41.

The kulap figure represents the recently deceased and are distinctive to Southern New Ireland. A male relative of the deceased would journey to the Rossel Mountains where specialist carvers living near the limestone quarries would provide said figure. On returning to the village the kulap would be placed in a shrine where it served as a temporary abode for the spirits, rather than wandering and harming the living. After a certain period the figures would have been destroyed. The few that have survived would have been sold to visitors as was the practice in the late 19th and early 20th century.

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