Charles Seligman Beatrice Blackwood PRM Museum John Hutton Henry Balfour Edward Tylor Augustus Fox

Pitt Rivers Museum Oceanian collections statistics up to 1945 - summary report

1. What was colonial history of geographical area?

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Cook Islands

1888 - Becomes a protectorate of the British

1901 - Islands annexed by New Zealand

1965 - Self-government but associated state relationship with New Zealand continues

Fiji

*1874 – becomes British colony

1970 – independence

Kiribati

1892 - Gilbert Islands become protectorate in 1892

1900 - Banaba annexed

1916 - Gilbert and Ellice Islands colony formed [and extended to include Phoenix and Line islands groups and Tokelau for a time]

1939 - 1945 Japanese

1967 - elected House of Representatives established

1979 - Gilbert Islands become independent as Kiribati

Nauru

*1914 – becomes British colony

1968 – independence

New Guinea see Papua

New Hebrides /

*1887 – becomes colony administered by Anglo-French Condominium Vanuatu

1980 – independence as Vanuatu

New Zealand *

1840 – Britain claims sovereignty and administers as part of New South Wales

1841 – declared a separate colony

1907 – self-government and creation of the Dominion of New Zealand but New Zealand continues to prefer Britain to run most of its foreign affairs for some time and thus does not confirm the Statute of Westminster until 1947

Niue

1900 - GB annexed Niue as part of Samoa partition

1901 - New Zealand annexed as part of Cook Islands

1904 - separated from Cook Islands and given separate administration

1974 - self-government in association with New Zealand

Norfolk Island

1774 - 'Discovered' by James Cook

1788 - Penal settlement

1914 - Australian Commonwealth Territory

1979 - self-government

Papua

1883 – Queensland government annexed south coast, to British disapproval

*1884 – Papua becomes a British Protectorate

1888 – region formally annexed to empire

1906 – passed to newly federated Australia

1914 - joined with north of island, taken from Germans

1921 – administered by Australia under League of Nations mandate

[1942-1943 – Japanese]

1949 – formally united with other areas of New Guinea, forming Papua New Guinea

1975 – independence from Australia

Because of the way the entries are catalogued on objects prm, with contemporary [that is present day] geographical names being used in the search fields it is not possible to separate out those items which relate to Papua from those that relate to New Guinea although these were separate entities until after the period we are concerned with [they combined in 1949]. However according to note above the areas were joined in 1914 at least informally so there is an argument for this approach. Of course various islands which were perhaps considered separately (though still administered by the British) during this period are now subsumed under the country name 'Papua New Guinea' , these could be considered separately as their names are usually given in the region field but we are not doing so at this juncture. According to the Encyclopaedia Britannica (not always the most reliable source) German New Guinea became an Australian mandate in 1920 under the League of Nations and after World War II it became a UN trusteeship administered by Australia. This would suggest that for approximately half of the period in question Papua New Guinea was at least in some respects a whole and can be treated as such.

Pitcairn Islands

*1789 – mutineers from the Bounty settle on Pitcairn

1838 onwards – a British colony

Solomon Islands

*1893 – become British colony

1978 – independence

Some parts of the Solomon Islands (geographically) are not part of the Solomon Islands politically, as ever objects prm has followed the political arrangement - at this stage we are not intending to look statistically at these smaller areas and if such a move seems worthwhile, because something in the more macro statistics suggests it would be worthwhile, then it should be directed at particular islands or island groups as there are many sub-country regions in Oceania.

South Sandwich Ids Part of British Falkland Islands as a dependency [uninhabited for colonial period]

Tokelau

1877 - High commissioner in Fiji received jurisdiction over British Nationals   in Tokelau

1889 - Protectorate established

1916 - Tokelau became part of the Gilbert and Ellis Islands colony

1925 - New Zealand granted jurisdiction

1948 - became part of New Zealand

Tonga

*1900 – becomes British colony

1970 – independence

Tuvalu

1892 - became British protectorate

1916 - became part of Gilbert and Ellice Island Colony

1978 - became independent

Western Samoa

*1914 – becomes British colony

1962 – independence

Samoa is a big problem because entries pre-1945 just said Samoa, since then politically it has been divided between Western Samoa and American Samoa although most of the entries just say Samoa, the likelihood is that the majority came from the British held part of the island. We have therefore just kept the statistics under the heading Samoa (for information there are 5 objects which are definitely from Western Samoa (and none definitely from American Samoa) which supports this argument.

Countries within Oceania which were never in the British Empire:

Gambier Islands French Polynesia

1844 a French protectorate was proclaimed and the islands were annexed in 1881.

Irian Jaya [Indonesia]:

Now part of Indonesia. Dutch claimed western half of the island of New Guinea in 1828 but their first permanent administrative posts were not established until 1898. The Netherlands regained sovereignity after Second World War until granting of independence to Indonesia in 1963. A plebiscite held in 1969 resulted in the area becoming an Indonesian province.

Marquesas Islands French Polynesia

In 1842 the chiefs of the islands ceded sovereignity to France

Marshall Islands

In 1886 with agreement of UK Germany established a protectorate. Japan seized the islands in 1914 and after 1919 adminstered them as a League of Nations mandate. Occupied by USA in Second World War in 1947 they were made part of the United Nations Trust Territory of Pacific Islands under the jurisdiction of the USA. In 1979 formed a republic and internal self-government. In 1982 the government signed a Compact of Free Association with the USA. Full independence was gained in 1991.

Federated States of Micronesia [Caroline Islands]:

In 1886 Spain colonized the Carolines but its short rule ended in 1899 when the islands were sold to Germany. Germany yielded the islands to Japan in 1914 and after 1920 Japan got formal title to them as a League of Nations mandate. In 1947 the Carolines with Marshalls and northern Marianas became a UN Trust Territory under USA administration. Federated self-government was put into effect in 1979, in 1983 a Compact of Agreement was signed with USA. Micronesia became fully independent in 1991.

New Caledonia

France took possession of most of present day New Caledonia in 1853 though the Loyalty Islands were not taken until 1864.

Northern Mariana Islands

Spanish territory from 1668 until sold to Germany in 1899 [except Guam]. See Micronesia.

Republic of Palau [Caroline Islands]:

Unclear until 1914 when the Japanese took over and lost the territory in 1945. Thereafter it became part of the UN Trust Territory from 1947, the country became internally self-governing in 1981, signed a Compact of Free Association with the USA in 1982 though this caused internal dissent for many years.

Rapa Nui [Easter Island]

In 1888 the island was annexed by Chile and it is now a Chilean dependency

Society Islands French Polynesia

Tahiti (and therefore effectively all the Society Islands) were made a French protectorate in 1842 and a colony in 1880

Tuamotu Archipelago French Polynesia

Declared as dependencies of Tahiti within the protectorate by France in 1847 and became part of colony in 1880

Tubuai Islands French Polynesia

Placed under French protection in 1889 and annexed in 1900.

USA [Hawaii]:

Self-governed by monarchy until overthrown in 1893 and a republic formed with USA support. In 1898 the Hawaiian islands were annexed by the USA and became a state of the USA in 1959.

Wallis and Futuna Islands

Wallis became a French protectorate in 1887 and Futuna in 1888, in 1959 the islands elected to bcome an overseas territory of France.

[this list excludes those countries which do not have objects in the PRM by 1945]

2. List countries included in geographical region

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List of all countries within Oceania in alphabetical order for which we provide statistics

Australia [Norfolk Island]

Cook Islands

Fiji

Gambier Islands French Polynesia

Irian Jaya [Indonesia]

Kiribati

Marquesas Islands French Polynesia

Marshall Islands

Federated States of Micronesia [Caroline Islands]

Nauru

New Caledonia

New Zealand

Niue

Northern Mariana Islands

Republic of Palau [Caroline Islands]

Papua New Guinea

Pitcairn Islands

Rapa Nui [Easter Island]

Samoa

Society Islands French Polynesia

Solomon Islands

South Sandwich Islands

Tokelau Islands

Tonga

Tuamotu Archipelago French Polynesia

Tubuai Islands French Polynesia

Tuvalu

USA [Hawaii]

Vanuatu

Wallis & Futuna Islands

List of all countries within Oceania Melanesia

Australia [Norfolk Island]

Fiji

Irian Jaya [Indonesia]

Kiribati

New Caledonia

Papua New Guinea

Solomon Islands

Vanuatu

List of all countries within Oceania Micronesia

Federated States of Micronesia [Caroline Islands]

Marshall Islands

Nauru

Northern Mariana Islands

Republic of Palau [Caroline Islands]

List of all countries within Oceania Polynesia

Cook Islands

Fiji [Rotuma only]

Gambier Islands French Polynesia

Marquesas Islands French Polynesia

New Zealand

Niue

Pitcairn Islands

Rapa Nui [Easter Island]

Samoa

Society Islands

South Sandwich Islands

Tokelau Islands

Tonga

Tuamotu Archipelago French Polynesia

Tubuai Islands

Tuvalu

USA [Hawaii]

Wallis & Futuna Islands

List of 'colonial' countries [ie at some time part of British Empire]

Cook Islands

Fiji

Kiribati

Nauru

New Zealand

Niue

Norfolk Island [Australia]

Papua New Guinea

Pitcairn Island

Samoa

Solomon Islands

South Sandwich Islands

Tokelau

Tonga

Tuvalu

Vanuatu

Western Samoa

List of countries that were not part of British Empire at any time

Gambier Islands French Polynesia

Irian Jaya [Indonesia]

Marquesas Islands French Polynesia

Marshall Islands

Federated States of Micronesia [Caroline Islands]

New Caledonia

Northern Mariana Islands

Republic of Palau [Caroline Islands]

Rapa Nui [Easter Island]

Society Islands French Polynesia

Tuamotu Archipelago French Polynesia

Tubuai Islands French Polynesia

USA [Hawaii]

Wallis & Futuna Islands

A good many of these islands were or are still part of other European countries' colonial holdings eg Irian Jaya which was Dutch, Hawaii (still part of the American Empire!) and all the islands still incorporated into French Polynesia.

A. Looking at Oceania as a whole

Objects from Oceania form a relatively small percentage of all objects obtained up to 1945 (9%):

The first thing to note is that the Oceanian objects in the PRM up to 1945 are dominated by objects from Melanesia, which are more than two-thirds of the overall Oceania collection:

with Polynesia second largest contingent and Micronesia (as would be expected being the smallest at only three per cent. This can be compared to the same figures for the whole of objects prm (that is, for the PRM accessions to the present day):

By which it can be seen that there is the same slight decline in the Melanesian and Polynesian shares, with Micronesia remaining the same and only the percentage for unspecified Oceanian material increasing. This is a little surprising suggesting as it does that the number of unprovenanced Oceanian items has increased between 1946 and 2003 from the level it was at by 1946 even though, in general, documentation standards have improved over this period. In general these differences are not very significant, however, and it is clear that the pattern of distribution between Oceanian sub-regions has remained broadly the same over the history of the PRM.

Ethnography and archaeology

[article ID:69]

The proportions between ethnography and archaeology in Oceania is at variance with the global statistics up to 1945:

For Oceania as a whole:

Archaeology - 272

Ethnography - 15,188

Arch or Ethn - 1,628

Oceania has a much higher percentage of ethnography than there is globally (and probably than there is from any other continent).

It is not clear why such a small percentage of Oceanian collections are archaeological perhaps because of the relative difficulty of digging in this area? or the belief that there was relatively little to be found? Oddly the percentage of archaeological items is higher in Australia (13 per cent, which is still low) which would surely historically have been considered a country without a significant archaeological past (although see comments in Australian statistics about attitudes to stone tools? It might be that this is a museum quirk though and that other museums do not have this bias.

It will probably not be a surprise to see that ethnographic items from the British Empire dominate the overall Oceanian collections (se e below for further information).

B. Breakdown of Oceania total figure between Oceanian countries:

There is a good deal of double counting between countries as well as very many Oceanian items which are poorly or imprecisely provenanced. These figures are therefore only an indication and should be viewed with some scepticism.

As can be seen from the above pie chart, not only do items from Melanesia dominate the Oceanian collections but items specifically from the island of New Guinea dominate as well:

C. Dominance of items from countries formerly part of the British Empire:

In Oceania there are significantly more object s from former colonies than non UK colonial areas.

Of course, this predominance is partly because PNG figures are so high overall, as PNG was at least in part a significant element in the British Empire this is predictable. You will note that there are two separate forms of this graph, one (shown below) calculated the figures by adding together archaeology, ethnography and ?archaeology/ethnography counts of Oceania statistics as identified as being from within or without the British Empire, the other one (to be found above) was calculated by dividing the total number of objects for each country between British Empire or not. The figures in each case:

Part I calculation: British Empire= 85 per cent / Non-British Empire = 15 per cent

Part II calculation: British Empire = 87 per cent / Non-British Empire = 13 per cent

These figures are not earth-shatteringly different but they are different. The lesson to be drawn from this discrepancy is that the figures can vary depending on how they are calculated and that, yet again, we should stress how sceptical should be the view of these statistics and how tentative the conclusions.

One can draw a certain conclusion from these statistics, even taken the discrepancy, the vast majority of Oceania objects accessioned by 1945 were from colonies or ex-colonies of the British Empire. For this continent Empire did make a difference.

These total Empire figures can be broken down into figures for archaeology and ethnographic objects:

D. Archaeology, ethnography and undefined objects:

Oceanian archaeological objects:

It can been seen that archaeological items from Polynesia dominate the Oceanian archaeological collections, and that New Zealand dominates the Polynesian and Oceanian archaeological collections :

We cannot think of any very cogent reason for this dominance. In any case we are not actually talking about a very large number of items, there are only 272 definitely archaeological items from Oceania in total of which 214 are from Polynesia and 185 from New Zealand. The size of the NZ collections is primarily down to the Moir and Charles Smith collections. It should be noted that there are 1,628 objects from Oceania which are not clearly defined as either archaeological or ethnographic (a much larger figure that those which are definitely archaeological) for further details see below.

Oceanian Ethnographic objects:

In contrast, Melanesia dominates the figures for ethnographic objects, see third pie-chart in report, which shows that 88 per cent of the total Oceanian collections are ethnographic, and of course the island of New Guinea dominates the Melanesian figures (see pie chart below).

There are a very large number of ethnographic objects (15,188 in total).

Oceanian objects which are not clearly archaeological or ethnographic:

There are a total of 1,628 objects which are not clearly defined as either archaeological or ethnographic of which 82 per cent are from Polynesia and 18 per cent from Melanesia:

Table showing, for each country its relative split between archaeological, ethnographic or not clear which:

Country name

Archaeological [%]

Ethnographic[%]

Arch or Eth [%]

Cook Islands

1

98

1

Fiji

0

99

1

Gambier Islands

0

35

65

Kiribati

0

100

0

Marquesas

0

100

0

Marshall Ids

0

100

0

Micronesia [country]

5

95

0

New Caledonia

2

96

2

New Zealand

11

66

23

Niue

0

100

0

Palau

0

98

2

Island of New Guinea

0

97

3

Pitcairns

2

16

82

Rapa Nui

0

16

84

Samoa

6

93

1

Society Ids

1

98

1

Solomon Ids

0

100

0*

Tokelau

0

100**

0

Tonga

0

99

1

Tuamotu

15

85

0

Tubuai

3

63

34

Tuvalu

0

100

0

USA [Hawaii]

1

77

22

Vanuatu

0

99

1

Wallis & Futuna

0

100

0

Total Oceania***

2

88

10

* actually there are a small number of potentially non-ethnographic material from the Solomon Islands but the number is so small it does not register as even 1 per cent.

** In the case of Tokelau 100 per cent is not a very surprising figure - there is only one object!

*** - calculated not by averages etc but by dividing total Oceania objects by archaeology etc.

E. When did objects come into the Museum from Oceania?

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There doesn't seem anything particularly significant about this breakdown, the peak in the 1930s matches the overall high number of objects received in the Museum in that decade from all over the world. However as the table below shows, it is principally objects from Melanesia that contribute to this peak, other areas of Oceania generally do not peak in the 1930s (rather the reverse). The reason for the Melanesian (and as will be seen from figures further down this paper, PNG specifically) blip is the large collections accessioned from Beatrice Blackwood.

Melanesia

Micronesia

Polynesia

Unspecified

1880s

1,118

93

1,112

35

1890s

1,848

96

475

66

1900s

2,097

70

310

7

1910s

1,375

11

1,366

74

1920s

1,637

202

943

7

1930s

3,600

17

517

21

1940 - 1945

678

24

189

18

Archaeology

Ethnography

Arch or Eth

1880s

26

2,066

52

1890s

14

2,190

75

1900s

9

2,307

46

1910s

118

1,701

937

1920s

59

2,389

113

1930s

24

3,671

404

1940 - 1945

22

854

1

Empire v Non-empire by decade:

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Empire: The most significant decade for Cook Islands acquisitions was the 1880s (or before and then via other institutions) although they only became part of the Empire in 1888. In Kiribati there are only a few more objects obtained (mostly) after colonisation as there were the decade before. The same pattern is clear in Niue, Samoa and Tonga where there were more accessions before than after colonialisation. The PNG figures for the 1930s are causing the overall 1930s blip for Oceania, that is probably entirely due to Beatrice Blackwood's collections being accessioned during that period. Note also that for the first 3 decades we are looking at, the number of entries which are not clear whether they come from PNG or Irian Jaya is much higher (nearly 400 objects over the 2 decades), this may have been as a result of the market accustoming itself to the colonial reality ie before then and for some time after people thought of the island of New Guinea as a whole and not as 2 separate political entities (or 3 as it was for some of this period). In Tuvalu, as might be expected to occur more commonly, more items were obtained post-colonialism.

Non-Empire: The large number of objects acquired from Rapa Nui in the 1910s were due to the single donation from William Scoresby Routledge. The large number of objects acquired from the Society Islands and Hawaii during the 1880s actually date from before this, as most of them come either from the Ashmolean Museum, Pitt Rivers or Christ Church

F. What type of objects were obtained from Oceania?

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Interestingly, unlike the global statistics (or those for Australia the only other continent for which entries have been statistically analysed), weapons are the most commonly acquired type of object from Africa.

This of course is not all the classes of objects within the Museum but it was the top 10 when the global statistics were analysed. It turns out that there is slightly different top 20 when the Oceanian figures are analysed:

Up to 1945

Oceania

total

up to 1945

Position

Type

No. of objects

Position

Type

No. of objects

1

Tool

68,459

1

Weapon

5,047

2

Weapon

32,794

2

Tool

3,829

3

Ornament & Bead **

21,345

3

Ornament & Bead

3,194

4

Religion

15,125

4

Fishing

1,008

5

Pottery

12,597

5

Figure

893

6

Figure

9,571

6

Clothing

820

7

Vessel

7,463

7

Food

738

8

Clothing

6,846

8

Basketry

698

9

Specimen

6,722

9

Narcotic

674

10

Music

6,038

10

Specimen

636

11

Textile

5,755

11

Vessel

631

12

Toy & Game

5,645

12

Animalia

620

13

Food

4,907

13

Photograph

584

14

Death

4,843

14

Barkcloth

550

15

Box

4,645

15

Music

524

16

Basketry

4,235

16

Trade

519

17

Currency

3,995

17

Navigation

476

18

Narcotic

3,701

18

Technique

461

19

Writing

3,670

19

{Currency}

416

20

Measurement

3,325

19

{Religion}

416

It can be seen from the above table that priorities for collecting types of Oceanian objects, or (if it was not so systematic) the most common forms of Oceanian objects collected vary a good deal from the pattern found for objects from all over the world. Weapons take over from Tools as the most collected item. Fishing is very much more important, in Oceania it lies 4th, in global terms it is 28th! Navigation is 17 in the Oceania list but 41 globally, and barkcloth is 14 in Oceania but 50th globally, other significant differences. Clothing appears higher in Oceania than globally as does animalia. food, basketry, narcotics, photographs , technique and trade (though many appear in both top 20s). Several objects are represented far less proportionally in Oceania than globally; vessels, religious objects, pottery items, toys and games, boxes, writing related items and measurement items.

If you want to compare remaining Melanesian top types to the global top types then see global report and descending order list of Melanesian objects given in full Oceanian statistics.

This dominance of weapons over other types of objects from Oceania can be shown clearly by a few country examples:

Some countries have a little different pattern, more similar to global patterns:

Some take the global pattern to extremes!

And others have patterns all of their own!

Full figures for all types of objects in the top global 10 and the additional Oceanian top 10 items can be found in Oceania Statistics Part III. There are other graphs in the same location given further breakdowns.

G. What type of people collected in Oceania ?

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There are no very strong patterns to be found, of the secondary collectors or donors the most noticeable are the Ashmolean Museum (most of whose objects of course will in fact have been obtained before 1880) and Pitt Rivers (the founding collection)(also mostly collected prior to 1880):

The most noticeable field collectors in Oceania as a whole are Beatrice Blackwood, Robert Henry Codrington , William Macgregor, William Scoresby Routledge, Charles Smith, Henry Boyle Townshend Somerville, and CF Wood. Beatrice Blackwood is the largest single field collector (and donor) to the Museum of Oceanian objects, she of course carried out several extensive field trips to various parts of Melanesia in the 1930s.

Almost the entire collection from some countries up to 1945 came via single collectors:

or two collectors:

Or sometimes the collection is more evenly split between several different field collectors:

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