Ulumate or ‘dead head’ describes the ancient practice of human hair wig-making by iTaukei (Indigenous Fijians), which has been inactive in Fiji for two centuries.
Na Tolu, an artist collective formed by Joana Monolagi, Ole Maiava and Daren Kamali, has been revitalising the practice of Ulumate through research informed by ulu cavu held within institutional collections and historic images of iTaukei.
Their work includes the first ulu cavu made in more than 200 years, woven by Joana Monolagi with hair collected from Daren Kamali from 1997 to 2021. Joana, a heritage weaver, completed the wig using island materials such as magimagi (coconut coir) and vau (hibiscus stem).
The Ulumate Project: Sacredness of Hair is the second publication in a related series by Na Tolu, and expands on their previous book: Bringing back the Forgotten. Rich in imagery, details of process, and original writing; this book portrays Fijian costumes and adornments, including the ulu cavu wig made by Joana Monolagi, as well as photographs by Ole Maiava and Daren Kamali.