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Kulupu Falehanga ‘i Teleiloa


Kulupu Falehanga ‘i Teleiloa | New Zealand/Tonga est. 2010 | Ngatu tā’uli 2011 | Koka (pigment from koka tree) and black commercial paint on Hiapo (paper mulberry) barkcloth | 2215 x 420cm | Acc. 2011.170 | Commissioned 2011. Queensland Art Gallery Foundation

Ngatu tā’uli 2011

Ngatu tā’uli are black-marked barkcloths of great cultural significance in Tonga. Made from strips of handbeaten paper mulberry bark, ngatu tā’uli are customarily made only under the instruction of chiefly women for special purposes, such as royal funerals and wedding ceremonies. With a predominantly black (uli) composition, this 22-metre long ngatu tā’uli was created by a women’s art group based in both Auckland, New Zealand, and Tatakamotonga, Tonga, who worked with respected members of the Tongan community in Auckland. Whilst the cloth has been marked with traditional designs – fakafo’ihea (hea fruits), amoamokofe (caressing bamboo), vakatou (double-hulled canoe) and the chiefly muimoa (chicken tail) – the members of this group have chosen to replace the traditional natural black pigment with a synthetic polymer paint more readily available in Auckland. The collaborative and formal processes informing the creation of this cloth, ensures that it is imbued with great spiritual and cultural significance.