16. Report of the Curator of the Pitt Rivers Museum (Department of Ethnology) for the year ending 31 July 1953

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; W.C. Brice, M.A., Jesus College.
Librarian and Secretary: R.C. Gurden.

The arrangement of large collections by subjects, with the areas in which objects are found as sub-groups within them, the original idea of General Pitt Rivers, sometimes displays the geographical variations of an art or industry, or the diffusion of an art or technique over a wide area, or the origin and development of an instrument, process, art, or industry, and on occasion may simply set out a complete technical process in the areas in which it is found, or again, show a classification of all the forms which a particular kind of instrument or object may take.

Such an arrangement means that the Museum exhibitions and storage are always interacting, and cannot in all places remain static. This year, as usual, people have seen that some cases have been rearranged, others are being arranged, and some remain untouched. It has been necessary to undertake several areas of the Museum at the same time, so that while paint and other decoration are being applied and fittings made, or objects are being mounted or labels being composed and written, or while we are awaiting the results of analyses, it is possible to be sorting material in another area, collecting references for it, arranging the general layout according to space available, and generally considering the best type of exhibition possible in that space in view of the nature and amount of the collection involved. In this we have been materially helped by Mr. H. F. Walters, who has made and is making large deep cupboards, so that we can keep up a continual interaction between the iron house and the exhibition area, and gradually improve the arrangement of stored material for immediate reference, since we use specimens in the same way that geologists and zoologists use them for practical teaching, and for helping the many research students who come from many parts of the world and need large and well-documented collections to aid their work.

The Curator and Mr. Gurden sorted about 1,500 flutes into their various types, end-transverse-, duct-, notched-, syrinx, and nose-flutes, and Mr. H. F. Walters made ingenious stands of clear perspex rods with perspex hooks, so that a large number of each class with its distribution could be shown. All of the remaining flutes of each class were collected and stored in the same area. Apart from making a virtue of our lack of space, the showing of a large number for comparative study has been of great use to members of the Galpin Society and other musicians, who want to see as much evidence as possible, rather than look at a small exhibition chosen from one point of view. In the same area Mr. Gurden helped the Curator to make a similar arrangement for trumpets, and also for autophonic instruments, that is, those made from resonant materials caused to vibrate by percussion, friction, or plucking. For these cases Mr. A. Wootton wrote a very large number of labels. Here, and in many other parts of the Museum, where necessary, he looked up references in the catalogue and Library, and seldom needed to consult the Curator. He also made himself responsible for redrawing many of the illustrations showing the use of specimens, going back to the original wherever possible, rather than copying the drawing which needed renewing. His work as an apprentice technician has been most satisfactory.

To secure the space for continuing the arrangement of musical instruments, Mr. Brice removed a display of wooden food-bowls to the Lower Gallery, while Mr. H. F. Walters made room for them by removing an exhibition of skates, snow-shoes, skis and sledge-runners from its case adjoining food production and food preparation to the west wall, where it took the place of a display of instruments for flagellation, now permanently in storage. Mr. Brice and Mr. Wootton then reduced two long bays of a display of paddles to one, showing them by areas separated by thick red cord on a cream background, with a rust-red floor. One of the bays so saved was fitted by Mr. Walters with steps covered with the same rust-red, with a contrasting red screen. This took the head-rests and seats out of the area of music in the Court. After sorting the very large collection on show and in storage, the curator and Mr. Gurden handed over those selected to Mr. H. F. Walters, who arranged them on clear perspex supports so that they can be easily removed and put back or replaced, always a necessity in a teaching collection, and Mr. Wootton designed and wrote labels for both bays in a style to harmonize with the decoration and type of object. In the areas already discussion preparations are underway for the rearrangement of stringed instruments of music, and for a new display of complete sets of tools of various crafts. The north side of the Lower Gallery was redecorated throughout nearly its whole length by Mr. H. F. Walters, who rebuilt cases and rearranged them so ingeniously that it was possible to remove all cases standing in the middle of the passage, including the large collection of netsuke, and place them against the wall, thus affording room to move freely, and open drawers and doors easily. In the same gallery Mr. Bradford saw to the arrangement of eight rail cases displaying currency, tools, shadow-play figures, traps, and ornaments, some of the exhibitions being new, and showing some of our finer objects formerly in storage. Mr. Allen and Mr. Wootton redecorated the cases, and looked out the necessary data for the labels which they prepared for the printer.

In the Upper Gallery the Curator, assisted by Mr. I. M. Allen, has been rearranging the exhibition of Bronze Age Implements. As it was neither possible nor desirable to compete with the Ashmolean in an archaeological arrangement of this section, we decided to make the display technological, showing as far as possible the knowledge of the ancient copper and bronze smith in as many areas as we could, and at the same time trying to give the basic principles of the metallurgy and metallography of copper and bronze. Here we should express our thanks to the Keeper of the Department of Antiquities in the Ashmolean Museum and to the Curator of the Museum of Eastern Art for the loan of crucial specimens to fill gaps in our own series, to Mr. Spiller and Mr. Kingsbury of the Department of Geology and Mineralogy for specimens of the ores of copper and tin, to Mr. H. H. Coghlan, Curator of the Borough Museum of Newbury, for advice and help in getting analyses and castings done, and to Dr. E. Voce of the Copper Development Association for analyses and reports, photomicrographs, and for making bronze castings in ancient open and closed moulds. The Curator set Mr. Allen the problem of preparing a screen to show the main principles of the metallurgy and metallography of copper and bronze, and to give the archaeologist help in interpreting analyses, photomicrographs, and such like material, so that he could discover how much the ancient smith knew of his craft at any period, given such data. Besides preparing the screen, Mr. Allen looked out illustrative material from the Museum to illustrate the main methods of the metal-worker, and prepared accounts of the minerals and their distribution in antiquity, some of the data being far from easily available. We next arranged a case and screen to display the casting of copper and bronze in open and closed moulds, using our ancient moulds and the castings made in them by Dr. Voce, and illustrated as well the cire perdue method and the cold hammering of copper. This year we also completed four screens and two cases representing the metallurgy of the ancient Near East and ancient Far East, using where possible photomicrographs and analyses, and attempting to display the stage of knowledge reached by the early smiths. We now await analyses to go on with the ancient metallurgy of western Europe, and will continue with other areas as opportunity arises of getting analyses done. Through the kindness of the Keeper of the Department of Antiquities at the Ashmolean, of Mr. H.H. Coghlan of the Newbury Museum, of Mr. Richard Barnett of the Department of Egyptian and Assyrian Antiquities in the British Museum, the promised help of Mr. Seton Lloyd at Ankara, of Dr. Claude F.A. Schaeffer at St. Germain-en-Laye, and of Mr. A .S. Megaw of Nicosia, we have been getting together ancient iron of the eighth and fifth centuries B.C., of the Roman, and of the Mediaeval periods, which is being analysed by Mr. T. H. Williams of Stewarts and Lloyds. We hope in our next report to be able to announce the completion of an exhibition giving some idea of the knowledge of the ancient blacksmiths and of their progress at various periods, but the preparation of such an exhibition is necessarily even slower than that of bronze, as iron decays so rapidly.

In the iron house the curator and Mr. Gurden have re-organized material so that the library of air photographs forms a small room in which Mr. Bradford can work on the collection, and have rearranged material so that Mr. Walters can continue his second and third twenty-foot ranges of large cupboards. Already we have managed to make reference to the collections far easier than was once thought possible. In the basement of the Examination Schools Mr. Brice has sorted and arranged the material in a second room, and the curator and Mr. Gurden visit it once weekly and continue with listing it for the card catalogue being prepared by Mr. Gurden. When finished, we shall be able to know when we need not go there.

In the Subject and Regional Indexes the curator has added 4,050 cards, and Miss Blackwood has added 2,000 in addition to the cards for both indexes from the current Accessions Books, and she has also distributed and arranged all of the cards typed this year. This brings the number of cards up to about 277,000. By the time we finish we hope to present the University with what scholars would call a good text, and scientists might describe as ample and accurate evidence.

Before leaving the matter of work on the collections, it may be as well to remark that the curator is sometimes criticized by people with 'modern' ideas of museum arrangement for putting so much material on view. This is done deliberately, and is not related generally to shortage of space. The student needs to see as much material as possible if he is not to go away in a matter of minutes feeling that he has mastered the subject, and need never look again, and the scholar needs a great deal in order to form a just estimate whether it is worth his while to go further into our resources. Even those who have no special desire to be examined or to write a learned paper return again and again to many of our cases which have taken their interest, and express appreciation of the fact that this is not a place where they can 'do' the collection between showers, but one in which they can always find more of what interests them and learn about the subject rather than put up with our idea of what is best for them to see. Pictures and sculpture of course require other treatment, but in a scientific collection plenty of evidence including awkward facts is necessary.

In the Library, besides the current classifying, cataloguing, and assistance to readers, Mr. Gurden has completed a shelf index of between 8,000 and 9,000 volumes, useful for checking against losses, classified a large number of pamphlets by subjects and areas in our collection of about 8,000 attended to the exchange of our publications for periodicals, and to review copies and those sold, and added 220 cards, duplicated, to the regional and subject catalogue of negatives taken by Mr. K.H.H. Walters.

In the Photographic Studio Mr. K. H. H. Walters, besides photographing 220 objects from our collection and other sources, has made 241 prints of various sizes up to 12 x 10 in., including some for our publications, and 210 monochrome lantern slides. An interesting development has been the making of 41 beautiful colour slides using Dufaycolour flat film material, which brought very favourable comment from a company of various members of the University for their truth to the colour and texture of the original. He also found time to mount some 250 prints, labels, maps, pictures, and sketches for the Museum, and to make valuable contributions towards solving the problems of the workshop and laboratory.

By the time this report is issued the Museum will have published Number 6 of its Occasional Papers on Technology. For many years Sir Francis Knowles has worked in the Museum making an extensive and intensive study of the techniques used by ancient and modern peoples in making stone implements, and has prepared a very valuable teaching exhibition of screens and cases. His book, entitled Stone-Worker's Progress, a Study of Stone Implements in the Pitt Rivers Museum, deals with our very large collections, and contains the results of his own and other experimental work, of observations, and of references in the literature. It is illustrated by drawings made by himself and by Mr. I. M. Allen, and may be obtained from the Museum for 15s. Mr. G. E. S. Turner is well advanced on Number 7 of our series, and we hope to be able to make an announcement of its publication in our next report. He is dealing with animal-hair embroidery in North America and North-east Asia, including true embroidery, appliqué, coiling, and imbrication, and besides using material from the Museum he has been helped by specimens and information generously contributed by the Hudson's Bay Company (Canadian Committee), through Mr. Clifford P. Wilson, and by Mr. Maurice E. Bastien, proprietor of the Huron firm of Bastien Brothers, Lorette, Quebec. Other help came from Lady Knowles, with the gift of hair-embroidered snowshoe-moccasins worn by Sir Francis Knowles and herself in Canada, which provide a link of some importance in the investigation.

The five earlier papers in the series, including that by the curator on ivory, bone, and antler, by Mr. Coghlan on the pre-historic metallurgy of copper and bronze in the Old World, by Miss Blackwood on the technology of a modern Stone-Age people in New Guinea, by Miss Start on the McDougall collection of Indian textiles from Guatemala and Mexico, and the classic paper by Sir Francis Knowles on the making of a flint arrow-head by quartzite hammer-stone, continue to receive favourable notices and to be read and asked for in many parts of the world, and to help us materially in adding to our collection of periodicals by exchange.

The growth of the catalogue has enabled us to make much better use of exchanges with other museums when opportunity offers. This year we were fortunate in being able to fill gaps in our collection of Indonesian specimens by sending duplicate Melanesian material to the Museum voor Land en Volkenkunde of Rotterdam. Both their and our material arrived safely though with delay during the disastrous flooding of Holland and our own east coast. Another useful accession through exchange was Indus Valley potsherds of the Amri and Harrapa periods from the Borough Museum of Newbury, to which we sent duplicate textile material.

Purchases again can be made more wisely with the development of the catalogue. From the Artists' International Association we bought Yoruba cloth dyed by the starch technique, and Yoruba tie-and-dye cloth, this area not being represented for these techniques in the Museum previously. From the same source we also acquired a fine cloth woven of camel and goat hair at Kano in Northern Nigeria. Mr. Rodney Needham made a good collection for us among the Penan, a group of nomadic forest hunters and gatherers, partly settled now, in North Central Borneo, and the Museum met his expenses. From Miss M.L. Tildesley we were able to get a good Albanian gipsy bracelet, which finds a suitable home with Miss M. E. Durham's beautiful collection. Other purchases were gramophone records of African music, albums to illustrate the history of music, and a few records to illustrate the sounds of individual instruments. We are indebted to Mr. M. V. Waite for acquiring two fine early barrel-organs in good condition, one by Astor and Horwood of London made between 1815 and 1824, with the original instructions, the other made in 1764 by E. Rostrand of Orange Court, Leicester Fields. This organ was formerly owned by the Arnett family, the eighteenth-century tenants of the Parsonage House at Stanton Harcourt. Both are in the Library.

Among gifts, a few of the more interesting may be mentioned. Our old friend Canon Wintle has a pleasant habit of collecting old street pianos and repinning them, and collected for us one made by Rissone of Clerkenwell about 1898. He put in a new cylinder, and set the pins for ten lively tunes in the taste of the period, including 'gems from the operas' and such popular tunes as 'The Man who broke the Bank at Monte Carlo'. The instrument has given a lot of innocent pleasure even to people whose musical standards are generally austere, and this was, of course, Canon Wintle's intention. Another delightful European accession was from Miss A. Calverley, through the Ashmolean Museum. It is a large structure made of palm-leaf from the island of Patmos, the … carried on Palm Sunday before the Abbot of the Monastery of St. John the Divine. To Mr. A. J. W. Stonebridge we are indebted for a Late Mediaeval brass hanging lamp which he found in the basement of his house in Museum Road. It instantly brought to mind Stukeley's lamp on the badge of the Society of Antiquaries, though without the stand, and Mr. I. A. Richmond's paper on this lamp in volume XXX of the Antiquaries Journal.

Among African accessions we have as usual to thank our friend of many years, Mr. J. A. Swan, for additions to all periods of the Stone Age in South Africa, carefully documented. We were much pleased also to welcome Miss G.F. Newnham, who with her mother presented us some years ago with a collection made in Peru, Chile, and the Falkland Islands in memory of the collector, her late father, Major F.J. Newnham. This time she arrived with a collection made by her father between 1894 and 1904 among various tribes in South Africa. Miss Marion R.P. Irvine presented us with specimens collected by herself near the eastern shore of Lake Nyasa in Portuguese East Africa. Mrs. G.D. Hale Carpenter brought the remainder of a collection made in Uganda, from which the late Professor Hale Carpenter had previously given us specimens. Mr. E.H. Lane Poole gave us some interesting old beads from Northern Rhodesia which provided evidence of the long association of that area with Indian trade, and Mr. W.L.S. Holder brought back from the Akamba four interesting snuff-containers from four different places in the Kitui District. Before her departure for America, Mrs. E.V. Blasdell gave us some good specimens of Basuto bead-work, including a large blanket embroidered with beads. For some time we had the pleasure of her company in the Library and the Museum, where she made an intensive study of our large collection of beads and bead-work.

This year unhappily saw the last of gifts from Malaya by Major P.D. Williams-Hunt, Protector of Aborigines, who died after a tragic accident in the jungle. Few men can have combined as he did the most austere scientific accuracy with the human sympathy and understanding which made him loved and trusted by the people he protected, and not only our subject, but the Commonwealth, are the poorer for his death at so early an age.

Mr. Julian Cornes added to our collection of armour a suit of blue-thread Japanese armour collected by his father in Japan between 1861 and 1875, Lady Hosie sent two Korean dolls collected by Lady Jordan, wife of the first British Minister to Korea, and Miss M. Sykes gave a small votive red pottery tile showing Buddha or Sakyamuni, excavated at the ruined mound Kankali Tala, said to date from the end of the first century A.D.

Among American accessions we should mention Miss Mary Wheelwright's album of records of Navajo Creation chants illustrating her book Navajo Creatton Myths, which she also presented, and a Peyote cult record from Dr. Ruth Underhill. Miss Helen Roberts sent four very fine decorated pots from the Santo Domingo, Acoma, and Zia Pueblos. Mrs. Elsie McDougall added to our collection of Mexican photographs, and Miss Margaret Foote gave us water-colours of Blood Indians made by her mother in 1895.

The most valuable gift from the Pacific was a carefully documented collection made recently by Miss Norah Finch among the Walberry Tribe in Australia, kept in beautiful condition. It is of importance in a large collection to have objects in any given area from as many different periods of time as possible, so as to see what features remain static, and which features change, and, if possible, to discover the reasons why.

During the year the curator lectured once weekly in all three terms on 'Origins of Civilization', and gave general direction to other teaching. Instruction was arranged by members of the staff for members of the Museums Association course who visited Oxford as part of their work for the Association's Diploma, and help given to other organizations and to people engaged in research. The curator continued to serve as Diploma Secretary for Anthropology and Interviewer of Research Students, and also to act as Secretary to Heads of the Science Departments. The curator's address at the five-hundredth meeting of the Oxford University Anthropological Society on 'The Beginning of Anthropology in Oxford', illustrated with early letters, diaries, and pictures, was printed in Anthropology at Oxford by the Society. The Museums Journal for January 1953 published his address to the Museurns Association on the history and policy of the Museum under the title 'The Pitt Rivers Museum'. With Miss Blackwood, the curator edited and saw through the press Number 6 of our Occasional Papers on Technology. In addition to other cataloguing, the curator prepared a list of about 800 wax cylinders of recordings in West Africa by Mr. N. W. Thomas about 1914, and of about 100 made by Mr. Diamond Jenness in the D'Entrecasteaux Islands in 1912, and Council has given permission to lend them to the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., when they are ready to take them in order to make permanent transcriptions. As usual, Mr. Gurden attended to all details of accounts and wages, and freed the curator from the great mass of routine paper work in which the modern world involves us.

In Michaelmas and Hilary Terms Miss Blackwood lectured twice weekly on 'Lands and Peoples', the first series being on 'Hunters and Herders', and the second on 'Cultivators'. Besides our diploma students, these were attended by 45 students for the Preliminary Examination in the Honour School of Geography. In Trinity Term she gave lectures once weekly on 'The Higher Civilizations of Pre-Conquest America', and once weekly on 'The Material Culture of East Africa' for diploma students. She also gave a course on 'Arts and Industries of British Africa' for Colonial Service Cadets. With Mr. Brice she gave a Practical Class twice weekly for two terms to Geography students, and with Mr. Bradford and Mr. Brice gave a Practical Class to diploma students once weekly in all three terms. In addition to assisting in the course for the Diploma of the Museums Association, she gave a great deal of time throughout the year to students and visiting research workers, and acted as examiner for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy. Besides entering and labelling. many accessions, she was responsible for choosing and writing off the material sent to Rotterdam for exchange. During the year she served on the Council of the Royal Anthropological Institute, the Council of the Folk-Lore Society, the British Ethnography Committee, and the Organizing Committee of the XXXth International Congress of Americanists at Cambridge, where she represented the University of Oxford and the Folk-Lore Society. Afterwards, assisted by Mr. G. E. S. Turner, who acted as Vice-Chairman of the Section on North American Archaeology and Ethnology during the Congress, she received members of the Congress who visited Oxford. Very shortly after, she represented the Pitt Rivers Museum and the National Research Council of Australia at the IVth International Congress of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences in Vienna, serving on its Permanent Council as one of the two National Secretaries for Great Britain. She assisted the curator in editing Number 6 of our Occasional Papers, and published accounts of the Congress of Americanists in Folk-Lore for December 1952, and in the Denver News Letter, No. I52, issued by the Denver Art Museum of Colorado.

Mr. Bradford lectured once weekly in all three terms, his titles being 'Nomad Empires of Asia', 'City, Village, and Field in Eastern Asia', and 'The Study of Tribal Art and the Consequences of Ancient and Modern Trade'. He also assisted in the Practical Classes each week, gave tutorials to 27 people, and examined for the Diploma in Anthropology. Outside lectures were two on 'Air Photography and Anthropology' at Manchester University, one on 'Air Photography and Classical Archaeology in Mediterranean Lands' for the Classical Association, in Liverpool, and one on 'The Recognition of Ethnological Specimens' to students working for the Museums Association Diploma. At the Anthropological and Ethnological Congress in Vienna he gave two lectures, one with colour slides on 'Masterpieces of Tribal Art in the Pitt Rivers Museum', and one on 'Air Photography for Anthropologists'. During the Conference on African History at the School of Oriental and African Studies, he was invited to address the Conference on the future use of air photography for archaeological work in Africa. He did so, and this has already led to new discoveries by African archaeologists working on photographs which he recommended. It was on his initiative that a meeting was held in which he illustrated the value and use of the Dufaycolour lantern slides made by Mr. K. H. H. Walters. Besides various reviews of books, he published 'Excavations at Cassington, Oxon.' in Oxoniensia, xvi. Obituary notices on his close friend Major P. D. Williams-Hunt have appeared in The Museums Journal, Antiquity, and Man. He continued to study the air photographs in the Museum, and made a number of discoveries which will appear in his forthcoming book on Ancient Landscapes in Europe and Asia, and added materially to the collection by purchase, gift, and exchange, from British, French, Spanish, Italian, Dutch, Malayan, and Indo-Chinese sources. In conjunction with the Ashmolean Museum, he sent an exhibition of air photographs to the Museum at Varese, Italy, and helped the British Council in preparing an exhibition of air photographs in a number of Spanish and Portuguese cities and universities. He even communicated his enthusiasm to Canada by broadcasting in French his views on the value of air photographs for various purposes.

Mr. Brice lectured once weekly in all three terms, assisted twice weekly for two terms in the Practical Classes for Geography students, and once weekly throughout the year took part in the Practical Classes for Diploma students. He also took part in the Diploma course of the Museums Association. The titles of his lectures were 'Rural Arts and Crafts of the Middle East', 'Routes and Customs of Trade in the Levant', and 'Heterodox Peoples of Anatolia'. During the year he gave tutorials to I8 people, and examined for the Preliminary in Geography. He represented the Museum at the British Association in Belfast, and gave a lecture on 'Routes of Trade, Conquest, and Migration in Early Anatolia'. He also represented the Museum at the commemorative gathering at University College, London, on the centenary of the birth of Sir W. M. Flinders Petrie, and was responsible for organizing the five-hundredth meeting of the Oxford University Anthropological Society, and the publication of its Proceedings. His publications include 'Lithic Industries of the Upper Neolithic and Chalcolithic Periods' in Professor John Garstang's Prehistoric Mersin, and a note on 'Concentric-Circle Ornament in the Near East' in Man, I953, no. 52.

In addition to work on Number 7 of our Occasional Papers on Technology, Mr. G. E. S. Turner published reviews of Smith, Archaeology of the Columbia-Fraser Region, and King, Cattle Point: A Stratified Site in the Southern Northwest Coast Region, in Man, I952, no. I70, and of Alvarado, Datos Etnograficos de Venezuela, in Man, I952, no. 288.

In our last report we were happy to announce that Sir Francis Knowles was improving in health, and beginning to come to the Museum, and we looked forward to his once more taking part in work on the collections and to his classes for students. But he died on 4 April of this year, and Lady Knowles did not long survive him, dying on 30 July. Obituary notices by Miss Blackwood in Nature, by the Curator in The Museums Journal, and by both in Man have summarized the considerable contribution made by Sir Francis both to Physical Anthropology and to the Archaeology and Ethnology of Stone Age peoples, and his forthcoming book in our series, Stone-Worker's Progress, will give an account of those contributions. Here we will do no more than say that he and Lady Knowles have been closely associated with the Museum as long as the oldest of us can remember, and have shown the kindest interest in all of us even to the most lately joined apprentice. A large section of the Museum will always testify to the importance of his work here, and those whom he taught here will remember how generous he was in the gift of his time and knowledge, and his character which developed in his pupils affection, respect, and a desire for hard work. His work will continue.

Apart from single research workers and our students, Mr. F. J. Nipress reports the visit of 61 schools and organized groups who did some work in the Museum, and of other visitors 9,250 came to the Museum during the year.


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