16. Report of the Curator of the Pitt Rivers Museum (Department of Ethnology) for the two years ending 31 July 1947

Curator: T.K. Penniman, M.A., Trinity College.
University Demonstrator and Lecturer in Ethnology: B.M. Blackwood, B.Sc., M.A., Somerville College.
Departmental Demonstrator: J.S.P. Bradford, M.A., Christ Church

The outstanding event of the year has been the return to New Zealand of Tuhoromatakaka, the ancestral meeting-house of the Arawa people, who first arrived in New Zealand in the canoe from which they take their name about 1350 A.D. This house had been built for Makereti, Chieftainess and first-born of the eldest line of the Arawa Tribe of the Maori by her people at Whakarewarewa, and was brought by her together with her regalia of greenstone ornaments and weapons, feather and flaxen cloaks, and carved wooden food-house and weapons, to this country for the Coronation of King George V, thirty-seven years ago, in 1910. While here, she married Captain Staples-Brown, and lived at Oddington Grange. Later, she became a member of the University of Oxford, and a pupil of the Oxford School of Anthropology, and we became familiar with her house and regalia, and learned much of Maori life. After her death in 1930, her son by a former marriage, Te Aonui, Chief of the Arawa people, returned to New Zealand, taking the regalia, and intending to bring the house.

It happened by chance that Miss Blackwood, taking her friends the Misses Watters to call on Mr. and Mrs Clinkard at Barndon Farm on the Oddington Estate, saw the carved totara-wood posts of the house in a farm-yard, overgrown with grass and nettles, and recognized others which had been built into a shed. The Curator wrote by air-mail to Te Aonui, and received a prompt reply from Te Rangi, his wife, to say that he had died four years ago, but that she had written to the Prime Minister of New Zealand. In a very short time, we heard from the High Commissioner for New Zealand, and Miss Blackwood had obtained from Mr. Clinkard and from Mr. North, who owns Barndon Farm, full and interested co-operation with the New Zealand Government. Our tasks were simplified by the help of Makereti’s book The Old-Time Maori, and by the full list of the parts of the house kept in the Museum with her manuscripts.

Miss Blackwood has now received from the Minster of Internal Affairs in New Zealand the thanks of H. M. Government in New Zealand, and an assurance that this historic meeting-house will be re-erected at Whakarewarewa. Since then many accounts from New Zealand have reached us of the happiness and gratitude of the Maori for Miss Blackwood’s discovery, and we are glad to know that, after so long a time, this historic house will stand by the tall carved obelisk erected by her people in memory of Makereti, who died 10,000 miles away from home.

Another event of interest to us was the arrival of the remainder of the collection made by Miss Blackwood on her last visit to the United States of America in 1939, and of a collection of Navajo textiles and silver made by Miss Maria Chabot in 1940. The Museum had offered to contribute to the cost of her expedition into the Navajo country, but war broke out, and Miss Dorothy Stewart of Santa Fe generously advanced the sum on behalf of the Museum, while Mrs. Van Stone, Curator of the State Museum, kept the collection for us during the war. It was a great satisfaction to us to be able to pay the monetary debt at long last, but we are still in their debt for making it possible to have so large and beautiful a collection when conditions were so much against us.

A third piece of good fortune was our acquisition of a virginal made by Marcus Jadra in 1552, according to Canon Galpin, who once owned it, and figured it in Plate XXIII of his book on Old English Instruments of Music, 1932. We are greatly indebted to Mr. Alex Hodsdon, of Lavenham in Suffolk, who allowed us to have it for the cost to him, and his own cost in putting it into perfect playing order. His stipulation that it should be used and not simply put into a case to be looked at, is one that is in full accord with our own views. Indeed, it has always been our purpose to see that all instruments which can be made to play should be put into repair, and we have been able to get Mr. Hodsdon to repair our stringed keyboard instruments as money allows. This year, he has repaired a small and valuable piano by Johannes Pohlman, made in London about 1770, and a reproduction of an early Italian virginal, which is useful for demonstrations in lectures. Among gaps in our large series of stringed instruments may be mentioned the clavicord and the single-action harp. The Museum is now a member of the Galpin Society, and hopes to play an active part in helping to spread a knowledge of ancient and of exotic music. We had no sooner joined than we were given the opportunity to lend the Secretary, Mr. Halfpenny, a set of eighteenth-century reeds for experiment with an oboe which once belonged to Mozart. These are being sent one at a time, and we await results with great interest.

As announced in our last Report, we have once more begun exchanges with foreign Museums and within the British Isles. Already, the National Museum in Copenhagen has sent a series illustrating the Danish Bronze Age in return for Naga Hills specimens given by Sir Robert Reid, and the Musée de l’Homme in Paris is about to send a collection of French Palaeolithic material in exchange for a part of the same Assamese collection made available to us by this generous donor. Duplicates from the general Museum collections are being chosen to send to Dr. Douglas of the Denver Art Museum in Colorado, in place of American Indian material which he is choosing to fill gaps in our collection. When he recently visited this country, Miss Blackwood and Mr. G. E. S. Turner went over our American material with him, and have made a survey of our needs. Foreign exchanges are a long and arduous business in the present state of the world, but it seems right to try to get back to normal life, even though there are severe difficulties in the way.

At home, through the kindness of Mr. Charles Green, Curator of the Gloucester Museum, and of the Cotteswold Naturalists’ Field Club, we have been able to make a valuable exchange with the Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology at Cambridge. Between 1882 and 1886 the Hoskold family lived in Argentina and made a collection of Indian material. Among this were pottery and copper of the ancient Diaguite culture. Cambridge also received an old collection with Chilean Diaguite pottery. Although our collection was a loan, and could not be disposed of except to Gloucester, the Curator of the Gloucester Museum and the officers of the Club generously agreed to lend a portion to Cambridge, and so to make it possible for both Universites to have a better teaching collection. Our collections from South America were further enhanced by a gift of Peruvian Chancay pottery by Mrs. F. J. and Miss G. Newnham, in memory of Major F. J. Newnham, who collected it in 1919, and by a considerable collection of Mochica and late Chimu pottery made by Mr. William Maxwell Ogilvie of Dundee, merchant in Valparaiso, Chile, 1884-1901, and given by his sons Sir Heneage Ogilvie and Sir Frederick Ogilvie, Principal of Jesus College, in memory of him.

As on other occasions, we owe our gratitude to our friends, Mr. Eric Thompson, for adding to our knowledge of Mexican antiquities by specimens and books and Mrs. Elsie McDougall for futher material for her textile collection here as well as numerous books and photographs. Miss Laura Start has completed the manuscript and illustrations of The McDougall Collection of Guatemalan and Mexican Textiles and this will appear in due course as the second of our Occasional Papers on Technology.

Further American material of value has been contributed by the Governor and Committee of the Hudson’s Bay Company through negotiations with Mr. Turner, by Miss Gibson, who sent from the United States four reels of coloured cinematographic films which she had taken of Pueblo ceremonies and by Mrs. Aiken, who sent pictures of Mexican material which we could not get in this country. It was pleasant to hear again from her; as Miss Freire-Marreco, she was our first pupil for the Diploma in Anthropology and a considerable donor to the Museum. Her Pueblo Indian collections, with its catalogue written by herself, is one of our best documented and most valuable accessions.

Among African accessions we should mention especially a large collection of stone implements from East Africa, made and presented by Mr. L.S.B. Leakey, Curator of the Coryndon Museum at Nairobi. Mr. Bradford and Sir Francis Knowles worked over this whole collection and made a special exhibition of the many and varied types of implements for the Top Gallery. As usual, Mr. Walters showed great ingenuity in devising a good exhibition case from many bits and pieces which would normally be rejected. Further gifts of African material came from Mrs. Seligman, this time mainly Egyptian and Sudanese, though, as often in the past, many countries were represented in the collections of the late Professor Seligman from which so many examples have enriched us. Lady Knowles and Mrs. Cameron gave a collection made among the Nuer by their brother Major Lennon; Colonel F.S. Keen, C.B., D.S.O., a collection made among the Akamba by himself; Mr. G.A. Wainwright, examples of modern Egyptian clothing and ornaments; and Mr. J.A. Swan, additions to the collection of ancient South African stone implements which he has been sending to us for many years past.

The most outstanding gift to the Library, has been the bequest of about 500 volumes on West Africa, from Captain R.P. Wild, one of our oldest friends and most discriminating of collectors.

Among Asiatic and Oceanian accessions may be mentioned Miss. S. Newnham’s collection of Armenian textiles from the Caucasus and Bithynia, Mr. Charles Green’s gift of a camel saddle-frame of the Jenebi tribe on Masirah Island on the Western Oman coast, the gift by Sir. R.E Stubbs, G.C.M.G., of a Tamil brass model of a bullock-cart, Igorrote black wood figure of a boy and a Maldive Island mat, Maori and Japanese weapons from Mr. R.G. Dingwall, Fijian mats from Mr. G.K. Roth, Australian stone implements, not hitherto represented here, from Lieutenant H.M. Cooper and Professor A.S. Barnes. a loan of beautiful Indo-Tibetan jewellery from Mrs. Q.Q. Henriques and a loan of two superb Malayan tops and two Chinese pottery jars from Malaya made by A.S. Haynes, Esq., C.M.G.

Outstanding among European accessions was Miss Coltart’s gift of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Hispano-Mauresque, and of eighteenth-century Turkish ceramic, so interesting that Mr. Bradford has made a special exhibition of it in the main court. Other gifts were Mr. Basil Allchin’s collection of tradesmen’s tokens and memorial medallions, Dr. E.M. von Hornbostel’s collection of pottery whistles, mainly European, which came through the Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology at Cambridge, Mrs. Violet Murray’s unusually complete and well-kept lace-making set from Fritwell in Oxfordshire, a roasting-jack with clockwork mechanism from Miss Mabel Reid and a correct working model of a Kentish dung-cart made by herself. A nineteenth-century 22-note mechanical piano was purchased from Canon Wintle and Mr. Walters replaced the wormed action. Mr. C.O. Waterhouse was commissioned to make more of his beautiful drawings of Palaeolithic implements to use on lantern-slides and for publication.

Sir John Myres continued his usual generosity with specimens and books on subjects useful to the Museum and Miss. L.C. Grose once more gave us specimens discerningly collected by her father from many parts of the world.

Photographs and specimens were chosen and lent to the Clarendon Press for a Children’s Encyclopaedia and lantern-slides were lent to Dr. Cohn for his lectures on Chinese Art in the Ashmolean Museum.

Apart from activities already mentioned, Miss. Blackwood prepared screens of Photographs and notes and arranged the specimens representing South Amercian archaeology in the Top Gallery, thus completing our Exhibition of Stone-Age Industries. Much of the reorganization of the Bronze-Age awaits the conclusion of Mr. Bradford’s constant work in completing the cure of crucial specimens affected by Bronze disease. So far, this has been notably successful. During the year Miss Blackwood added 350 lantern slides to our now good collection on which she has been working for the last eight years and made negatives for many more, as the room we had used as a studio was being turned into a telephone exchange. In the interval of waiting for the studio which we mean to build in the present eastward wing of Geology as soon as it is vacant, Professor Hale Carpenter has most kindly allowed us to use a room in his Department. Besides adding to the collection of slides, she has added about 9,000 cards to the Regional Index and distributed about 3,500 written by the Curator, as well as entering a large number of accessions for the first time. When a temporary exhibition of ancient Peruvian textiles chosen by the Curator was dismantled, she chose examples of New Guinea art from the Papuan Gulf, Sepik-Ramu, Huon, Massim and Netherlands areas and with Mr. Bradford’s assistance, arranged a most attractive exhibition, bringing out clearly the considerable differences of styles of art in New Guinea. Great credit is due to the Technical Staff and especially to Mr. H.F. Walters, for finding material to make the display effective.

Once again the Museum owes its thanks to Mr. G.E.S. Turner for his work on the arrangement and documentation of our older American Indian material.

Mr. Bradford has now been appointed University Demonstrator. beginning on the first of October, his duties including assistance with the collections. Apart from work already mentioned of which that on Leakey’s collection was considerable, he arranged the transport from Rome of the large library of over 100,000 air-photographs of the Central Mediterranean and Central Europe, given to the University by the British School in Rome, to the Museum where the collection is now housed. As soon as we get into the eastward wing of the present Geology building, Mr. Bradford and Mr. Gurden, who also has considerable experience of air-photographs, will begin cataloguing them and making them available to the University. We could hardly have a collection of more use for archaeology and ethnology, or for any branch of environmental studies. During March 1947 Mr. Bradford conducted a three week’s season of excavations at Cassington near Oxford, on an Early Bronze Age and Romano-British site on behalf of the Inspectorate of Ancient Monuments, at the invitation of Mr. D.B. Harden, Keeper of the Departments of Antiquities in the Ashmolean Museum. A grant of £50 from the Craven Fund, recommended by the Board of the Faculty of Literae Humaniores and a further grant of £25 from the Museum, enabled him to visit Italy in July 1947 to confer with the Italian archaeological authorities about arrangements for trial excavations of several of the Pre-historic and Roman sites in Apulia discovered by himself in 1945. His mission, including an explanatory lecture on Air-Photography and Archaeological Studies given at the Accademia di San Luca at Rome, was successful and he obtained permission from the Minister of Public Instruction to begin excavations in the spring of 1949 and will send in formal application. It is hoped that the Museum can assist further in finding means to carry out this valuable project. In June, in the midst of much routine work on accessions and the re-entry of old collections that had been entered en masse, he found time to make air-reconnaissances of East Anglia and of the Upper Thames Valley, in this latter being accompanied by Mr. Atkinson of the Ashmolean Museum, discovering and photographing new prehistoric sites.

Mr. R.C. Gurden joined the Staff as Librarian and Secretary to the Museum in December 1946. His previous experience with the Radcliffe Science Library, except for the whole of the war years, during which he served mainly on active duty in the field with and air-borne Battalion (52nd Light Infantry) and the fact that he had previously spent much of his spare time in classifying and cataloguing the Balfour Library, enabled him to start work as though he had always been here. Much of his time has been devoted to classifying and cataloguing the books in the Marett, Myres, Beasley and Tylor collections and he has fully catalogued over 1,500 books and arranged them in order, besides dealing with new accessions and periodicals. Since his arrival it has been possible to open the Balfour Library at 9 Crick Road to students under his supervision, and this has proved to be much better than the considerable risks run before in allowing use of the Library.. It is hoped that by 1949 our libraries, now scattered in four buildings, will be collected into the eastward wing of the present Geology Department, together with the library of air-photographs and maps, and, under his management, can take its rightful place in the needs of the Museum and of the University. Mr Gurden’s work as Secretary to the Museum has been invaluable, both in dealing with the accounts and payment of Technical Staff, which regularly become more complicated, and in dealing with routine, and in help with answering an increasing number of letters, including a very large number of inquiries by research students from all parts of the world.

Mr. K.H.H. Walters, son of Mr. H.F. Walters, joined us in July, after a long period of active service in the Army (R.A.O.C) during which he added to the technical experience he had gained before joining. Under his father’s able tuition he is rapidly learning his duties here. He has ability as a photographer, and Mr. I.M. Allen, who joined us last year, has shown unusual ability in accurate drawing. Both will receive eastward wing of the Geology Department, we can hope to publish our Occasional Papers with more regularity and at less cost than is now possible.

Mr. H.F. Walters and Mr. Whiting have as usual been through the whole of the exhibition and storage in all four buildings, and seen to it that everything is clean and in good condition, and have instructed their juniors in this work. At the suggestion of Mr. Walters we have tried the Clymax spray (made by Clymax Supplies Ltd., of 67 Essington Street, Birmingham 15) on all of our material, and have found it thoroughly effective in destroying every sort of pest that attacks every sort of material that human beings use. Apart from work on exhibition cases already mentioned, the Technical Staff have refitted the Long Room for Mr. Bradford and Mr. Gurden, reorganized storage in the main building and the iron shed, repaired a great deal of pottery, and have cleaned, polished, and rearranged cases of guns, clothing, and a wall-case of musical instruments. Their skilful work on restoration of damaged specimens has been of great value to the Museum.

The Curator gave his usual course on Origins of Civilization in all three terms, and supervised practical work, in which he was greatly assisted by Mr. Bradford and Sir Francis Knowles, who continued to give invaluable assistance in the technology of stone implements, sorting over hundredweights, I had almost said tons, in the course of the year. The Curator continued to serve as Secretary of Heads of the Science Departments, and has been chosen as one of the fifteen members of the National Committee for co-operation with the International Council of Museums. In the course of service on the Ancient Metallurgy Committee of the Royal Anthropological Institute, he arranged for the analysis of part of the most ancient specimens in our collection, and, with Mr. R.C. Spiller’s help, for that of specimens of native copper in the University Museum. As results are published, they will be included in future reports.

Miss Blackwood gave an Ethnological Survey of Europe, Asia, Africa, and Oceania, twice weekly throughout the year, and in two terms lectured weekly on the special areas of Malaya, Indonesia, and Melanesia, in addition to supervising practical work once weekly with the help of Mr. Bradford. Like the Curator, she had many calls on her time from visiting research students.

Mr. Bradford lectured on ‘Humanity from the Air’ in one term, and in the other terms assisted the Curator and Miss Blackwood weekly in practical work, into which he has successfully introduced the drawing of objects. He has also lectured to the Prehistoric Society on ‘Neolithic Communities in South Italy in the Light of Aerial Photography’, and given a broadcast talk on ‘Prehistoric Sites in Dorset’ in the Series entitled ‘The Archaeologist’.

The Curator has published ‘Ancient Welsh Instruments of Music’ in the Museums Journal for July 1947, and selected and had photographed sculptures of the 13th century from Konarak and others of the Gandhara period for a forthcoming article with Dr. Cohn; Mr. Bradford has published ‘Siticulsa Apulia’ in Antiquity, December 1946, ‘Etruria from the Air’ in Antiquity, June 1947, and has in the press ‘The First Farmers in South Italy’, Bulletina di Palentologia Italiana, ‘Roman Field-systems at Zara and Carthage’, Antiquity, and ‘Air-photographs as a Source for History and Prehistory’ in the Illustrated London News. Mr. Turner published reviews of Leighton and Leighton, The Navaho Door (Man, 1947, 35), and Loptatin, Social Life and Religion of the Indians in Kitimat, British Columbia (ibid., 96), and lectured to the Ashmolean Natural History Society on ‘Land Transport of Modern Primitive Peoples’.

Apart from pupils and research students there were about 8,000 visitors to the Museum.

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Supported by the John Fell OUP Research Fund


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