- BACKGROUND OF STUDY
Uli has continued to influence artistic output of Igbo society and many contemporary Nigerian artist in general. The designs which have been made deliberately by most Igbo communities have communication meanings and functions such meanings and functions may vary from one community to another among whom the aesthetic values of uli designs are used. In this context, Aku community in Igbo-Etiti Local Government Area of Enugu State Nigeria is no exception. This research is only concerned with the uli in Mgboko Odobo Festival in Aku Community in Igbo-Etiti Local Govt. Area of Enugu State.
The are diverse views on the term “aesthetic values” According fleck (1974:345), it is a subtle chain that binds together all facts living to create order, beauty, inspiration, satisfaction and renewal. Socrates (469-322BC) is among the pioneers who first defined aesthetics. According to them, it has to do with “beauty” and “valuers”. Beauty is differentiated from infatuation and from concept that identifies and suggests the realm of eternal valuers as held by plate Socrates’ idea was that what is useful and efficient is aesthetic. One could support the ideas of the above scholars about aesthetics since they all boiled down to the believe that what is beautiful, valuable and satisfactory is aesthetic.
The concept of uli design is equally an expression of visual communication among the Igbo Societies. Scholars such as Uche Okeke, C. Aniakor have through their works, brought to time light world wide uli art as a means of traditional visual communication. Uka (2002) also describes uli as a medium which is characterized by unlimited use of lines of different wave length to represent concepts and ideas. It is an art from which expresses the culture of people in Igbo community.
Uli motifs represent things of physical importance, aesthetic appeal and relevance to traditional beliefs. In this case Uli design as a visual communication is said to be the symbols, representing what is important among Aku people in particular and Igbo Land general. The use of Uli as a means of visual communication in Aku community is as old as Aku itself. This is mainly done for body adornment, wall decoration and on Odo masquerading etc. Within this community, these motifs have been given meanings by our forefathers, among which is the aesthetic value of the designs to the community. However, it is necessary to review this practice since it has taken a back sent in the mind of several adults in Aku community and Igbo Land in general. The young girls whose bodies were usually well decorated with Uli designs during special ceremonies in the olden days are no longer interested in such tradition this is as a result of civilization resulting from colonial and missionary activities. The need to research into Uli designs for a strong awareness and also to document the art and expose its aesthetic values through the use of poster and other visual communication media practices cannot be over emphasized.
Brief historical background of Aku Community Aku town is the largest community in Igbo-Etiti Local Government Area. It is bound on the East by Ukehe, Ikolo and Affa, on the west by Obimo, Nkpologwu and Adada River, on the North by Leja and Ozalla and on the south by Akpugo, Udueme and Adada River. The full name of the town is Aku Diewa Mgboko Odobo. This essay is based on a critical analysis of the existing write-ups and update of Aku history.
Uli in visual communication design practices. Despite the emphasis on functions, the traditional uli painters did not neglect the aesthetics communication aspect from time immemorial. Uli generally is associated with Igbo Land. It is mainly done by women either on a wall, human body, also on utilitarian and ceremonial objects such as musical equipments, Ozo title staff and the “Oku” – Native plates, by men on a masquerade plaque heads, on Aku traditional war armaments such as spares, arrows and shields.
Traditionally, uli murals are done on mud walls with earth colors such as yellow, black and blue. Ikwuemesi (2003), noted that uli symbology is part and parcel of the traditional Igbo creative endowment. He further stated that it consists of painting and decorative art which involves the use of abstract, semi-abstract and geometric motifs. Apart from mural and body adornment, Uli designs could be employed on sculptural works as discovered in the igbo ukwu excavation in the 9th century, traditional Igbo weavers also employ uli motifs in their designs like the Akwete women weavers. All these uli designers have helped to enhance aesthetic visual communication among the Igbo society and the wider world.