ULI: Powerful Ancestors from the Pacific
By Jean-Philippe Beaulieu
Published in English by Primedia, Belgium
245 x 330 mm
392 pages, hardcover
ISBN: 978 29601375 4 5
Featuring the first and only catalogue raisonné of uli figures from central New Ireland
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Created by the Mandak people of central New Ireland, uli figures were the centerpieces of elaborate funerary cycles. The majority of known examples were collected by German colonial personnel in the early twentieth century, a time when uli rituals were being discontinued in favor of other funerary celebrations. These large and remarkable figural sculptures quickly became the most sought after artworks for German institutions and, later, private collectors.
In this luxurious slipcased volume, Jean-Phillipe Beaulieu presents a catalogue raisonné of known ulis, extant and lost, 231 examples in all, 205 of which are illustrated. Detailed entries provide all known information on provenance along with stylistic notes and other particulars. Text chapters delve into the history of New Ireland, the German colonial presence there, and what little information is known about the uli rituals. The impact of ulis upon the European art scene of the early twentieth century, particularly that of the surrealists, is also explored. Biographical detail is presented about the various “uli hunters”—anthropologists, missionaries, and adventurers, most of them German, who acquired the examples that are now so treasured in Western collections. This beautiful book is printed in a limited edition of 100 copies, and it will be a welcome addition to any library, whether its focus is Pacific artifacts or general fine art.