Funerary Figure (Kulap), Chalk, paint, Southern New Ireland

Funerary Figure (Kulap)

late 19th century
Papua New Guinea, New Ireland
Southern New Ireland
Chalk, paint
H. 19 1/4 in. (48.9 cm)
Credit Line:
Gift of Evelyn A. J. Hall, 1981
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 354
In the southern part of New Ireland, a large island north of New Guinea, artists created chalk figures portraying both male and female subjects. Housed in small shrines constructed in the forest outside the village, the figures played a central role in a cult of the dead. Variable in their individual styles and attributes, it is possible that the figures were intended to portray specific individual ancestors whose supernatural powers could be harnessed to benefit their living descendants.
Governor Rudolph von Benningsen, Neu-Pommern, representative of the German Reich, until 1890s; Linden-Museum, Stuttgart, Germany; [Matthias Komor, New York]; Evelyn A. J. Hall, New York, until 1981

Kjellgren, Eric. Oceania: Art of the Pacific Islands in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York and New Haven: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2007, no. 96, pp. 162-–163.