Collection Close Up

Our collection close up

This woven cuirass, or piece of body armour as it is otherwise known, is an intriguing item within the Museum collection that has long been shrouded in ambiguity.
This dance club, made c.1895, is an important component in the cultural narrative of the Santa Cruz Islands, Solomon Islands.
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’”.
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.
Until recently this bark cloth 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.
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.
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.
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.
Fire sticks 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’).
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.
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.
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.
This spear thrower is a significant record of the Kaiadilt’s material culture, predating the evacuation from their home of Bentinck and Sweers Islands. It is an uncommon type of a common item in pre-colonial Australia.