(Uri) are the curvilinear traditional designs drawn by the Igbo people of southeastern Nigeria. These designs are generally abstract, consisting of linear forms and geometric shapes, though there are some representational elements. Traditionally, these are either stained onto the body or painted onto the sides of buildings as murals.
Designs are frequently asymmetrical and are often painted spontaneously. Uli is generally not sacred, apart from those images painted on the walls of shrines and created in conjunction with some community rituals. In addition, uli is not directly symbolic but instead focused on the creation of a visual impact and decorating the body of the patron or building in question.
The designs are almost exclusively produced by women, who decorate other people’s with dark dyes to prepare for village events, such as marriage, title taking, or funerals, as well as for more everyday wear.Designs last approximately 8 days.Igbo women also paint uli murals on the walls of compounds and houses, using four basic pigments: black, white, yellow, and red. These designs last until the rainy season.
The drawing of uri was once practiced throughout most of Igboland, although by 1970 it had lost much of its popularity, and was being kept alive by a handful of contemporary artists. However, uli does continue to be practiced by some artists within Nigeria,some of whom have begun producing traditional designs on canvas.In addition, contemporary artists, such as the artists of the Nsukka group, have appropriated motifs and aesthetics of uli and incorporated them into other media, often combining these with other styles both from Nigeria and Europe.
The name “uli” is derived from the Igbo names of the plants that are processed to produce the dye used to stain on designs. According to local mythology, the practice developed as a gift from Ala, the goddess of earth, who blessed women with the ability to create art, as demonstrated through the creation of uli.The designs themselves are derived from natural forms,such as animal patterns, like leopard spots or python markings, as well as other abstract forms, such as the female body or knotted designs.Thought the historical origins of the practice of uli are unknown, uli designs have been found on Igbo-ukwu bronzes, indicating that the practice has been in usage since the 9th century.
PESHIER THE DESIGNER