Collection Close Up section

Solomon Islands Dance Club

This dance club, made c.1895, is an important component in the cultural narrative of the Santa Cruz Islands, Solomon Islands. The islands are well known for their iconic red feather money, banana bast weavings and tapa, tema chest ornaments and the so called napa dance clubs, although little is known about this final type of objects. While dance clubs were frequently collected during the height of colonial governance (1850 – 1910), they had largely disappeared by 1960 (Koch 1971:178). The 2000s saw simplified napa clubs being brought back into use for cultural festivals and for entertaining tourists. Among other objects, these clubs became mediators of a recent broader cultural revival of Santa Cruz traditions (Lueb 2016).

Photograph of 'Euro/Hero'

This photograph was part of Judy Watson and Diana Young’s exhibition, “written on the body”. Their research dates the image as 1898, and gives the men’s names as “‘Euro’ possibly ‘Hero’ and ‘Tiger’”. The photograph was taken at Musgrave Native Police Camp, Eastern Cape York, by Walter Roth, then Protector of Aborigines in Queensland. While in this role (1896-1906), Roth spent much of his time collecting information about Aboriginal languages, places, activities, and bodies. This photograph is one of a set of images of people with labels on their torsos.

Solomon Island baton

This baton, one of four in the collection, is from southern Malaita in Solomon Islands, where `Are`are and Kwaio people call them hauanoreereo and fou`atoleeleo, respectively. The names refer to their chambered nautilus shell inlay (leeleo) and the stone (hau or fou), usually a pyrite nodule, often bound to the top with ornamental plaiting. Men who had killed wore them hanging down their back from a cord round the neck.

Solomon Island Figurehead

This canoe prow ornament is of a type used in western parts of the Solomon Islands, with tabs that made it possible to slot the item into the bow of a canoe if and when required. This type of decorated prow is no longer seen in the Solomons and there are few examples in museums.

Chinese dalian

Constructed basically as a flat strip of cloth with a narrow slit on its reverse, item 9330 is intriguing because it is difficult to imagine what it was used for at first encounter. Its design suggests it is a purse, but this is ruled out by its size and flatness. Called a dalian, it is a waist accessory whose origins date to the Shang and Zhou dynasties when bags containing sundries or aromatic herbs were worn.

Ömie barkcloth skirt

Until recently this barkcloth skirt was only known to have been created in Oro Province, Papua New Guinea. In 2012 two female senior artists of Oro Province’s Ömie tribe, Chief of Dahorurajé clan women Fate Savari (Isawdi), born c.1933, and Chief of Sahuoté clan women Celestine Warina (Kaaru), born c.1947, identified the cloth as Ömie.

Aboriginal king plates

King plates like the ones shown were an imposed role across parts of Aboriginal Australia. During the 19th and into the beginning of the 20th century individual men were chosen as ‘leaders’ so they could act as brokers between Euro-Australians and Indigenous groups.

Digital photograph of ngwallndu puti

The figure of ngwallndu puti seen in this photograph is the most powerful of the tambaran (supernatural beings) to the Abelam people of the Sepik River region of Papua New Guinea. Taken in July, 1964 at the Kumungai hamlet of Neligum villages in northern Abelam, by UQ Emeritus Professor Robert MacLennan, this rare photo illustrates the vital role material culture plays in the Abelam belief system.

Stitched cape

Stitched mats are made in many parts of Melanesia and are used as raincapes, floor and sleeping mats, wrapping the dead and as covers for newborn children.

Wiramus malangan carving

This month the Anthropology Museum was visited by Martin Kombeng and Adam Kaminiel from New Ireland and later by Professor Susanne Küchler. During both visits there was much excitement on seeing this malangan from the Collection as it is thought to be very unusual.

Baining headdress

The Baining masks are built to impress. That mass of human and leafy gear, atop which the mask sits is eerie. Pair that with their huge eyes, swirls of patterns and the skin which seems to glow in the firelight and you know you don’t want to walk into one of these in the dark.

Fire sticks

Firesticks in this part of Australia are extremely long, one being drilled into the base of the other to make fire by friction. The driller-firemaker stands up to do this. In Wik-Mungkan they are called thum pup (literally ‘fire + Premna wood’).

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