16. Report of the Curator of the Pitt Rivers Museum (Department of Ethnology) for the year ending 31 July 1949

Curator: T.K. Penniman, M.A., Trinity College.
University Demonstrators and Lecturers in Ethnology: B.M. Blackwood, B.Sc., M.A., Somerville College; J.S.P. Bradford, M.A., Christ Church
As Miss Blackwood’s Technology of a Modern Stone-Age People in New Guinea went to press as the third of our Occasional Papers on Technology, edited by the Curator and herself, and published by the Museum, Mr. Bradford started his expedition to Apulia. Miss Blackwood’s expedition on behalf of the Museum shortly before the Second World War was specifically for collecting for the Museum and for observing and recording technological processes. Some publication has already appeared in the Proceedings of the Sixth Pacific Science Congress, in the Geographical Journal, and in Folk-Lore, and the Museum possess her films of making stone implements and other processes which have been shown at congresses and meetings of learned Societies. But the war, and the urgent calls of a heavy teaching programme and of research workers, of the Regional Catalogue and the library of lantern slides, as well as finance, have caused us to wait until now to publish her specimens and an account of their making and uses. The book will contain about 40 pages of text, 16 pages of half-tone plates from photographs taken by Miss Blackwood on the expedition, and 19 line-drawings made by Mr. I.M. Allen of our Technical Staff from Miss Blackwood’s collection.

Mr. Bradford’s expedition grew naturally out of air-reconnaissance by himself, and out of the collection of about 100,000 air-photographs which he made for the Museum in Italy at the end of the war. So desirable did it seem to check on the ground the important observations from the air that negotiations were begun last year with the Italian authorities, and in February 1949 the Society of Antiquaries formed the Apulia Committee to prosecute research by field-work and excavation on Prehistoric, Roman, and Mediaeval sites revealed by Mr. Bradford’s and other air-photographs. The Society of Antiquaries, the Prehistoric Society, and the Craven Committee of the University of Oxford all generously made grants towards the cost of three months’ work, and the Trustees of the Leverhulme Fellowships also gave a personal research grant to Mr. Bradford, which enables him considerably to increase the scope and value of his work. The Museum had already made a small grant the year before to allow a preliminary reconnaissance and opportunity to met the Italian authorities personally, and to discuss matters with the British School in Rome. Mr. Bradford will be assisted by Mrs. Bradford, herself an archaeologist, by Mr. C. Musgrave, one of our pupils, and Dr.Georges Kaftal, whose special work has been in Mediaeval art and archaeology.

The Museum has so organized its teaching and routine that Mr. Bradford can be away until November, but absence of a Demonstrator from our small Staff emphasizes the need for at least one more Demonstrator, as our teaching programme and routine work are heavy, and since field-work is vital to us, it is desirable that Demonstrators should take turns in being away, two always being in residence, while one is in the field.

During the past year the Department of Geology moved into its new building, and in June the University Surveyor, Mr. Swain, completed his admirable reconstruction of that part of its old quarters which adjoins the Curator’s room. Mr. Gurden supervised the moving of the books from 9 Crick Road, the Iron Shed, and elsewhere, to the new Library, and arranged them in groups to agree with the subjects of the Museum in bookcases rebuilt by Mr. Walters and Mr. Whiting from second-hand purchases made during the last ten years. They have built four large bays in the main Library on the ground floor, and are building three bays on the first floor, which holds periodicals, pamphlets, maps, and photographs. Furnishing has mainly been done from second-hand purchases made over a long period in anticipation, so that at small cost the result is solid, spacious, home-like, and Victorian - a style that suits the building better than any other. Apart from purchases and smaller gifts these books are largely the gift of Sir Edward Burnett Tylor, Sir John Evans, Sir John Linton Myres, Dr. Leonard Halford Dudley Buxton, Mr. Harry Geoffrey Beasley, Captain Robert Powley Wild, and Dr. Robert Ranulph Marett’s wife and family; but above all of Professor Henry Balfour, whose books, collected during more than half a century to illustrate and explain the subjects of this Museum, have established the nucleus of a library which in time will rival the gift of our founder. Many of these books, indeed including a large number out of more than 10,000 pamphlets and MS. notes now being sorted and classified, would be difficult to discover in a general library, or to look out in periodicals, as each group in many instances requires a specialized knowledge of subjects outside the ordinary run, and it would need a large staff of specialists to document the collection and give adequate information about it, if it were not for such a library used in close connexion with the Museum and its teaching. We are fortunate now that our work and that of our students and research workers will no longer be crippled by absence of the Library in several more or less remote places.

Besides the Library, the annexe provides a Photographic Studio, Print, and Dark Rooms, on whose recalcitrant architecture Mr. K.H. Walters has laboured ingeniously and successfully to secure the best possible results from our new photographic apparatus. It also gives us rooms for the Secretary-Librarian and a Demonstrator. Previously, Mr. Gurden and Mr. Bradford had worked side by side in the insalubrious air of the Reception room for specimens needing disinfection and cleansing. This room has been wired as a workshop, in which their will be adequate space for the lathe, circular saw, drills, grinders, and other tools which have more than proved their worth during the past few months, while Mr. H.F. Walters and Technical Staff have been satisfying the Museum requirements rapidly and at small cost, and doing what we need to have done rather than being forced to endure unsuitable work done by outside people at high cost. At present this room is most inadequately heated by a coke stove, which requires regular attention, and this must be replaced by pipes from the hot-water system, and gas carried through from the next room. The old Workshop will be fitted to serve as a Museum Laboratory, in which specimens will be isolated and treated before distribution, experimental work can be done as far as means and space allow, and a limited amount of teaching of museum technique and principles of field-work can be given to those of our students who have secured appointments, or are likely to do so in the near future.

As the stairs to the Gallery, the Curator’s and Miss Blackwood’s rooms were on the same circuit, opportunity was taken to improve the lighting during the other alterations.

While our needs for a Library and Studio have been met, and our workshop facilities have been improved, we are by no means out of all our troubles. Too much of the Main Court’s `exhibited storage’, because we have nowhere else to put material, and what is stored is packed so tightly that it cannot be intelligently enough arranged to get at without great difficulty and waste of time; and a good deal of material is buried in the basement of the Examination Schools, some distance away, where it is difficult to supervise its condition or to consult it for cataloguing, teaching, and research suffer, and collections deteriorate.

Two great needs remain: the first, a new roof for the Main Court, of Calorex glass, to prevent great heat from further damaging many specimens, and to keep out the rain; and the second, an eastward wing to form an open quadrangle to the south of the Main Court and allow scientific arrangement of material for teaching and research, to say nothing of adequately displaying some of the more valuable and beautiful possessions of the University.

Temporarily, the Balfour collection of musical instruments and lighting and fire-making appliances which was at 9 Crick Road has been placed in the room vacated by books in the iron shed. During the coming year there must be a major alteration among the overcrowded cases in the Main Court to amalgamate these valuable collections, removing some material to the shed and rearranging about 16,000 cubic feet of teaching and research material in the iron shed to make it more quickly accessible. These collections are used regularly in teaching and by research workers in the same way as zoologists and geologists use their specimens, and are in no respect surplus material that can be stored and occasionally inspected. Indeed, some of the material, such as textiles, to mention only one class, requires regular attention.

As usual Mr. H.F. Walters and the Technical Staff have gone the rounds of all the collections, inspecting, cleaning, and disinfecting, and have attended to looking out specimens for lectures and regular practical classes and returning them to their places. They have also found time completely to rearrange the long wall-cases, displaying body armour, spraying the interior with cream-coloured paint, and to rebuild a large case to show specially good examples of Japanese ceremonial armour. This is part of their long-term plan to lighten the Court make it more attractive, as well as to restore the original plan of General Pitt Rivers, often obscured by overcrowding, as far as restricted space will allow. Mr. K.H. Walters has stencilled many new labels and covered them with sellotape so that they are washable, and has also redecorated a large part of the Lower Gallery for the rearrangement of personal ornaments, which Mr. Bradford is continuing; and both Mr. Walters and Mr. Whiting have skilfully removed the fixed shelving from 9 Crick Road so that it can be rebuilt without waste in the new Library. Mr. Whiting’s new home is in a house bought by Mr. Lewis Balfour, through whose generosity and desire to carry out his father’s wishes the Balfour Library and collections came to the Museum after the late Curator’s death.

Among accessions to the collections the most important is perhaps that from the Denver Art Museum in Colorado, a most valuable addition to our American Indian series, chosen with great discrimination and care by Dr. F.H. Douglas, the Curator, in exchange for duplicates from this Museum. Other American accessions are baskets, textiles, and examples of a wild silk industry from the ever-generous Mrs. Elsie McDougall, whose main collection in this Museum has recently been published as Number 2 of our Occasional Papers on Technology under the tile The McDougall Collection of Indian Textiles from Guatemala and Mexico, by Miss Laura Start. We are especially pleased with a splendid facsimile of the sixteenth-century Mendoza Codex which Mrs. McDougall has just given to our Library. Professor J.A. Douglas of the Department of Geology has enriched our South American series with pottery excavated by himself in Bolivia and Peru, especially with the Tiahuanaco material, which was not represented in our exhibition, and filled a serious gap. Professor F.G. Speck of the University of Pennsylvania learned from Dr. F.H. Douglas that we had no Iroquois snow-snake, and promptly sent us a fine example. Anyone interested in the game can read about it in A.C. Parker’s article in the American Anthropologist. Vol. XI, 1909, pp 250-6, on `Snow-snake as played by the Seneca-Iroquios’.

Accessions from Asia included more from the borders of Assam and Tibet collected by Mr. J.P. Mills and by Mrs. Ursula Betts, formerly Miss Graham Bower, with rare examples from the Apa Tani, and Assamese material from Mr. C.R. Stonor. With this material of to-day, together with that of Mr. Mills and Professor Hutton, collected before the ‘twenties of the present century, and Sir Robert Reid’s gifts, collected in the ‘thirties, we have a dynamic and moving picture of the Naga Hills rather than a static or frozen impression.. Another interesting Asiatic accession was Major E.J. Lugard’s magical waist-coat from Burma, designed to protect the wearer from bullets.

From the islands of the sea came Mrs. C. W. How’s lovely collection from British North Borneo, an area from which we have little, made by her brother Mr. R. Hugh Chapman and sent to England in 1893; Dr. Humphrey Evan’s photographs of flaked stone implements, looking as though they came from Cissbury, but really from Fiji; and some Australian axe-blanks from Major Peter Williams-Hunt, who also sent us literature from Indo-China and air photographs which we would otherwise have sought in vain. From Viscount Harcourt’s sale we obtained two remarkable and beautifully made mats. Both were made in Samoa of pandanus-leaf strips, with borders of red parrot feathers. One went to Tonga as part of the dower of Fatafehi, father of the King of Tonga, who died in 1912, aged 74; the other belonged to Salanoa, nephew of Mataafe, sometime ‘King’ of Samoa. Both were given by their owners to Mr. Arthur Mahaffy, British Resident in the New Hebrides, and came to the Harcourt family in 1914. Another valuable accession was a Maori canoe baler from Mr. K. Sisam, which was used on the Whakatane River in the Bay of Plenty area.

African examples included further generous gifts from the Powell-Cotton family, collected by Mr. Christopher Powell-Cotton and the late Major P.H.G. Powell-Cotton in Angola and S.W. Africa, and documented with their usual perfection. Dr. M.D. Jeffreys, to whom the Museum is indebted for one of its largest single collections from the Cameroons and Nigeria, filled a large gap in our South African Stone-Age series; and Captain R. R. Donovan brought us carvings from King Prempeh’s palace, collected by Major C. H. W. Donovan during the Ashanti War of 1896, and other Ashanti material. From Dr. H. M. Gluckman came Rhodesian dance-masks collected by himself, of which we have no similar examples.

Perhaps the most important single European accession is the single-action eighteenth-century harp by J.A. Stumpff of London, given by Messrs. Charles Taphouse & Son. The Museum has a long series illustrating the development of the harp, including the Sebastian Erard double-action of the early nineteenth century and the Welsh triple-stringed harp. We have long needed the single-action, and this example is in such good condition that it can probably be re-strung by Miss Rowlands, when our Staff have time to make some small missing parts under her direction. Our main lack now is an early clavichord.

Sir Francis Knowles, after many years of effort, has now been able to present to the Museum a complete flint-knapper’s outfit from Brandon, including the block used by Mr. Frank Edwards, brother of Mr. V.R. Edwards, of the Coach and Horses Gun-Flint Works at Brandon in Suffolk. Mr. Hubert L. Gibbs of Bulscote has given us various accessories of the old livery plush looms which he used to work, and has arranged for us to have the last complete loom when we have rooms for it. From Mr. J.B. Calkin came flint lathe tools for Kimmeridge bracelets; from Mrs. M. Payne and English drinking horn with the monograms of Isaac Walton and Charles Cotton; from Mr. H.V.V. Noone further examples from the Upper Palaeolithic in France; and from Dame Katherine Furse a collection of amulets made by herself and her mother, Mrs. John Addington Symonds, while walking in the Tyrol and while living in Frome. This gift pleased us as we already had the famous Bellucci collection, given by Mrs. Symonds in the early years of this century. We were also glad to get from Mr. James Keggie a complete set of tuning-forks in just intonation. Miss Blackwood procured for the Library a fine grandfather clock made about 1775 by George Goodall of Aberford.

For a long time the Museum has cherished among its finer possessions two beautifully carved stelae of black stone made in Bengal shortly after A.D. 1200 for the Black Pagoda at Konarak, in Orissa. But they were entirely without context other than as general examples of Indian Art. For some time the Curator has served on a Committee for Establishing a Museum of Eastern Art to house some of the collections of the University; and now that Dr. William Cohn is Curator of such a Museum in the Indian Institute, and has arranged the collections, it appears that there is nothing to represent this period of Indian Art in the galleries. We therefore decided to transfer the stelae to their appropriate place in the museum of Eastern Art, on loan, where they immediately take their proper setting in the historical sequence, and appear where scholars would expect to find them. We had long admired these fine carvings of Vishnu and attendants in our own Court, and are sorry not to see them here, but must admit that they have gained the position and attention they deserve in their new place; and of course they still remain among the collections of the University.

During the year the Department of Geology removed its lantern and epidiascope from the theatre used by the Museum, and we have purchased a magic lantern with carbon arcs from Newton, and a lantern-epidiascope from Baker.

The Curator and Miss Blackwood are happy to say that they have nearly completed the Regional Index of the Collections. Uniform wooden cabinets with about 200 drawers have been installed, and Miss Blackwood has arranged the cards in them. The room is being cleared, and other cabinets will be installed for a Subject Index, which we have now begun. At long last we have been able to get index cards thin enough to type in duplicate and stiff enough to stand in the drawers, so that current accessions for both catalogues can now be done in one operation. In the past year the Curator and Miss Blackwood have each typed about 4,000 descriptive cards, and at present the Curator is at work on five volumes of collations and on breaking up mass entries, while Miss Blackwood, assisted by Mr. G.E.S. Turner, is engaged on the main Subject Index. The completed catalogue will require an entire room, which the recent alterations have made available.

Among its many services for students outside the University the Museum received Miss Barbara Hoather, Head of the Weaving Department of the Bromley College of Art, and her colleague Miss Mitchell, with eight of their students, for about a fortnight, during which they worked on textiles selected by Miss Blackwood, from many parts of the world, and used our publication of the McDougall Collection as a text-book, with the examples before them. Dr. Axel Steensberg of the National Museum of Copenhagen worked on ancient harvesting implements and air photographs of ancient sites with the help of Mr. Bradford; and the Curator was able to assist Mr. Eric Halfpenny, who has lately published our eighteenth-century Kusder oboe in a study of ‘The English 2- and 3- Keyed Hautboy’ in the Galpin Society Journal, Vol 11. The Museum hopes to continue to assist the Society, of which it is a member, with the aid of its large collections of musical instruments. Dr. Carl Kjersmeier of Copenhagen worked on parts of our African collections, and Professor H.Th. Fischer of Utrecht devoted his attention to connexions between Indonesia and Africa, while Mr. T. Harrisson, Government Anthropologist and Curator of the Sarawak Museum, came to work over our material from Borneo. Photographs were chosen and supplied to Mr. George Hyde of the U.S.A., to the B.B.C., and to the Central Office of Information and the Colonial Office. Miss Mary Cabot Wheelwright and Mrs. Maude Rex Allen both came from the United States, the one interested in our Navajo specimens, the other to work on our collection of fire and lighting appliances - one of the best of its kind in the world. The bulk of this collection is unfortunately stored in Miss Blackwood’s room, where it is not as accessible as it should be, and one of our aims has always been to make it more available to students of the subject. Mr. S. R. Mitchell, Trustee of the National Museum of Victoria in Australia, studied our Australian collections and discussed their technique with Sir Francis Knowles. The Museum chose collections for an Exhibition of West African Arts and Crafts sponsored by the Society of West African Students and the British Council, and for an Exhibition of the Contemporary Arts Society. Miss Blackwood was principally responsible for assisting the research workers, and Mr. Bradford for helping with the exhibitions.

It is best to say that it is not our regular policy to lend to outside exhibitions. Apart from the time and risk involved, it must be remembered that all of our specimens are used or liable to be used at any time in teaching or research, and when any are away for a considerable time we are like an encyclopaedia with missing volumes. The fact that our collections are used in teaching has also involved us in the work of discovering preservatives and disinfectants which are safe to use, and leave the specimens clean and pleasant to hand. Mr. H. F. Walters has given invaluable service to the Museum by working out the best methods. This year he spent a week of the Easter vacation at Cambridge, learning methods of using Perspex and other plastics to improve the display of our exhibitions.

Teaching occupied more time than usual as the number of students is regularly increasing. Fourteen students for the Diploma in Anthropology, twenty-seven from the Department of Geography (of whom sixteen were reading Ethnology for the Preliminary Examination in the Honour School), and thirty-one other students attended lectures or received tuition in the Department. The Curator gave his ‘Origins of Civilization’ once weekly throughout the year, and examined in the Tripos in Anthropology and Archaeology for the University of Cambridge. Miss Blackwood lectured twice weekly in all three Terms: on ‘Lands and Peoples (Hunters and Herders) ‘ in Michaelmas Term, and on ‘Lands and Peoples (Cultivators)’ in Hilary Term, to students for the Diploma and for the Preliminary in Geography. In Trinity Term she gave ‘The Higher Civilizations of Pre-Conquest America’ once weekly, and ‘Material Culture of East Africa’, the special area for the Diploma Examination, once a week to Diploma and Colonial Students and others. In Michaelmas and Hilary Terms she conducted practical work with Mr. Bradford once weekly for Diploma students, and alone gave practical instruction to Geography students twice weekly after her lectures. She acted as Moderator for the Preliminary Examination in Geography, and examined for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy in the University of Cambridge. Mr. Bradford lectured once weekly throughout the year: on ‘Nomad Empires of Asia’ in Hilary Term, and on ‘City, Village, and Field in Eastern Asia’ in Trinity Term; assisted Miss Blackwood in practical work in Ethnology in two Terms; and in all three Terms, with the Curator and Sir Francis Knowles, assisted in the practical work in Archaeology and Technology for Diploma students, both her and Sir Francis teaching drawing with very successful results in the examination. He was responsible in all three Terms for tutorial work for the Preliminary Examination in Geography, and in Trinity Term served as a Moderator. Other lectures and demonstrations given by Mr. Bradford were `An Aerial Survey of Prehistoric and Roman Agriculture in Southern Italy’ to the Society of Antiquaries, `The First Farmers in Italy’ to the Cambridge Antiquarian Society, `Archaeology in the Making’ for the Faculty of Anthropology and Archaeology in the University of Cambridge, followed later by demonstrations to their students on a visit to Oxford, and `The Uses of Air Photography’ for the Herbertson Society.

Apart from activities already mentioned, the Curator made up complete sets of several periodicals from partial sets given during past years and kept in storage, giving duplicates to the University of Leeds, where one of our pupils, Professor L.F. Henriques, is starting a Museum and Library of Ethnology, and sorted and classified about 10,000 pamphlets and manuscript notes into labelled boxes under subjects. This went on while Mr. Gurden was revising the various catalogues, supervising the moving of the Library and the setting out of cases, and arranging the books. Besides this Mr. Gurden has been responsible for duplicating bibliographies for all lectures as well as summaries, a very heavy amount of inter-departmental duplicating and distribution, dealing with accounts and wages, and a large part of the correspondence of the Museum. The Curator continued to serve as Secretary to the Committee of Heads of Science Departments. Miss Blackwood has added about 250 lantern-slides to our collection, including many of the Tiv people of Nigeria from negatives lent by Capt. R.M. Downes, and others representing a comparison of Chinese and Japanese painting for Dr. William Cohn; she has also rearranged a large part of the collection of lantern-slides, collected and entered a good many accessions, and documented some of the older specimens. She served on the Councils of the Royal Anthropological Institute and the Folk-Lore Society, and on the British Ethnography Committee, represented the Pitt Rivers Museum on the Council for British Archaeology, attended the Third International Congress of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences in Brussels as a Delegate of the University of Oxford, and was elected to the Permanent Council of the Congress as one the National Secretaries for Great Britain. Mr. Bradford, with the help of the Technical Staff, rearranged the case of Spear-throwers in the Top Gallery, and completed the preliminary subdivision, regionally, of the Bronze Age in Europe and Asia. Ultimately these cases will continue the Curator’s work on the Stone-Age throughout the world. With Sir Francis Knowles he also revised the cases showing the African Lower, Middle, and Upper Stone Ages, and the Bushman case. Labels were re-written, stratified material from the exchange with National Museum of Southern Rhodesia and from South Africa inserted, and a correlated series from South Africa and Rhodesia in the final stages of the Stone Age prepared, the whole being brought up to date with the latest views of African archaeologists. He made further arrangements for exchanges with the Australian Museum at Sydney, and settled with Major Williams-Hunt the details of a collection to be made in the interior of Malaya. He also found time from entering accessions to provide copies of archaeological air photographs for teaching to the School of Geography, the Institute of Archaeology in the University of London, the Liverpool Department of Archaeology, and to an exhibition in the Ashmolean Museum. In addition to activities already mentioned Sir Francis collected a representative series of Spalding’s beautiful work done at Brandon, and continued work on the development of stone-flaking techniques. Some of his work of this kind was published as the first of our Occasional Papers on Technology, with title The Manufacture of a Flint Arrow-Head by Quartzite Hammer-Stone, and it is hoped that one day the Museum will print this further work.
Of work published or being prepared for publication, we may mention the fact that the Curator is editing the fourth of our Occasional Papers on Technology by Mr. H.H. Coghlan, on The Prehistoric Metallurgy of Copper and Bronze, now about half-written, and has chosen specimens for analysis by the Copper Development Association, which is kindly analysing material for the Committee on Ancient Metallurgy (of which Mr. Coghlan and the Curator are members), set up by the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland, and looked out material from our exhibitions of Ancient and Primitive Metallurgy to be published in the forthcoming book. At long last, too, it appears that work done on Caves and Shell-Heaps of West Gower may be published. A review of J.E.T, Clarke’s Musical Boxes appeared in the Oxford Magazine on 4 November 1948. Miss Blackwood is seeing her book on The Technology of a Modern Stone-Age People in New Guinea through the press as Number 3 of our Occasional Papers. Mr. Bradford has published ‘”Buried Landscapes” in Southern Italy’ in Antiquity for June 1949, illustrating from sites discovered by himself the stages in growth of a European peasantry from its inception and over the last 4,000 years; ‘Iron Age Pottery from Yarnton’, Oxoniensia. X1-X11; ‘Humanity from the Air’. Archaeological News Letter, July 1948; ‘The March of Mind’ in Enquiry, No. 3; and a review of Professor Bogt’s Der Lindenhof in Zurich in the Burlington Magazine. He has two books in preparation: Studies in Mediterranean Archaeology, based on new discoveries in air photography, and Arts of Simple Societies, based on our collections. The latter book, with its emphasis on the beautiful and tranquil arts of primitive people, will be a contrast to work that is for ever concerned with externalized nightmares as typical of the primitive mind.

Nine thousand, nine hundred and ninety-six people (apart from research workers), including 607 children who came as part of their school work, visited the Museum.

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