Russian Home Search E-mail Map

Australia, Oceania and Indonesia

The department’s collections are among the most valuable in the Museum. The first acquisitions from Australia and Oceania date back to the last quarter of the 18th century (they include the unique collection assembled during Captain Cook’s voyages), whereas the earliest artifacts from the Philippines and Indonesia were acquired in the early 1800s.

The Department is in charge of four groups of collections: those from the Indonesian-Malay region, from the Philippines, from Australia, and from Oceania.

Indonesian collections

The Indonesian collections of the museum began to form in 1838. Since the mid-1860s the museum has been receiving collections and separate specimens from Indonesia. The rate of their influx varied with time. In the late 1800s and early 1900s numerous but mostly irregular donations were made by different collectors such as Dutch officials, naval officers, scientists, and diplomats, and Russian researchers, doctors, and diplomats. In the early 1900s, large collections representing the Batak culture of northern Sumatra were acquired. Especially rich ones, containing cultural and household objects of the Bataks, the Dayak, the Javanese, the Balinese, and the Buginese, were received from G. Meissner, K. Maschmeyer and A. Grubauer. Highly important contributions were made by Russian collectors A.S. Estrin and A.J. Smotritskaya, whose well-directed efforts helped enrich MAE collections of artifacts from Sumatra, Bali, the Moluccas, and West Irian. Among the most valuable acquisitions of the recent years are Papuan artifacts from West Irian donated by P.V. Komin (1968), hieratic books acquired specially for MAE by the Dutch theologist M.K. Jongeling (1973), those brought from Malaysia by Prof. A.K. Ogloblin of St.-Petersburg University Oriental Department, and those from various regions of Indonesia, donated by Mrs. E. Vitular, wife of the Indonesian Consul in Russia (1997). Currently, the Indonesian and Malaysian collections contain about 5.5 thousand specimens.

The Philippines

The first specimens in the Philippine collection were acquired in 1821, when Russia’s Consul General in the Philippines Pieter Dobel donated a collection of clothing to the Museum. Half a century later the depositories of the Ethnographic Museum (now MAE) were enriched with a collection acquired by N.N. Miklukho-Maclay from the Philippine Negritos in 1873. In 1879, the Governor-General of the Philippines gave to the Russian rear-admiral O.R. Stakelberg “a glorious pike of the unbowed tribe”. In the early 1900s the Museum acquired a set of Aeta (Philippine Negrito) weapons and Turnbull’s valuable collection representing the Ifugao culture (1915). In 1938, Roy Franklin Barton, the American ethnographer who worked at MAE for ten years, brought from his trip to the Philippines a large collection of Ifugao artifacts. The most recent collection was acquired by MAE staff member M.V. Stanyukovich during her expedition to the Ifugao in 1995. On the whole the museum depositories contain nine Philippine collections, but several others (mostly Indonesian), too, contain artifacts from the Philippines. Also, the museum possesses vast illustrative materials related to the peoples of the Philippines. The most valuable items are objects and photographs reflecting the culture of the Aeta – hunter-gatherers of Luzon, and especially Ifugao, who in the recent past were head-hunters and builders of world’s highest system of rice terraces.

Australia and Oceania

The Museum currently possesses 157 ethnographic collections from Australia and Oceania containing about 6.5 thousand units. The bulk of the Oceanian collections formed in the 1800s and early 1900s. However, the first acquisitions from Australia and Oceania date back to the last quarter of the 18th century. They are the so-called Cook’s collections.

Thanks to the assistance provided by the Russian authorities to members of Captain James Cook’s voyage, the depositories of the Kunstkamera were enriched by materials which are of special value as they reflect the precontact stage of Polynesian culture. In 1777, naturalist H. Forster, Cook’s crewmate during his second expedition, shipped three Tahitian tapas to St.-Petersburg, and in 1780 the retired Commander of Kamchatka prime-major M. B50102hm brought to St.-Petersburg several dozens of objects from the Pacific islands collected in the course of Cook’s third voyage. Cook’s collections contain cloaks and helmets made of birds’ feathers, which have no counterparts in any foreign museums. In 2002 this collection was displayed on a temporary exhibition Captain Cook’s Last Voyage, the full catalogue of which, in both Russian and English can be viewed on the Museum’s web site.

Unique specimens include the mantle and the helmet of Kameamea I – the first King of the Hawaii (brought to the Museum in 1810). The Museum possesses three mummified heads of New Zealand chiefs with intricately tattooed faces. They were considered sacred relics among the Maori.

In 1806 a personal donation was made by a Russian seafarer Yu.F. Lisyanskii. In 1826-28, an array of Oceanian artifacts from several early Russian circumnavigations in the first quarter of the 19th century was transferred to the Kunstkamera from the Admiralty Museum. In 1830 the Kunstkamera received a large Micronesian collection assembled by members of Captain F.P. L50108tke’s expedition.

The bulk of the museum’s New Guinean and Melanesian collections are things collected by the famous Russian traveler and naturalist N.N. Miklukho-Maclay. Especially valuable are those from Easter Island – wooden figures and two wooden plates with carved inscriptions, called “kohau rongo-rongo”.

Among the Australian collections there are rich samples of weapons and magical objects, specifically an amazing set of Australian “churings”, ritual objects used in the “mika” rite. New Guinean materials include rare wooden, stone, and clay images of Papuan ancestors. There are numerous Melanesian utensils, and a valuable collection of Melanesian masks which were used by members of secret male unions in their rites. There is also a curious collection of shell money from Micronesia and stone money from Yap Island.

In the late 1800s and early 1900s, a huge contribution to the Oceanian collections of MAE was made by German researchers and travelers such as O. Finsch, G. Mayer, K. Maschmeyer, etc. Among Russian travelers of that time whose collections from Oceania owned by the Museum are A.L. Yaschenko and W.W. Swiatlowsky.

Materials were acquired throughout the 20th century. Especially noteworthy are those obtained by the ethnographic team of the Institute of Ethnography and Anthropology (to which MAE belonged at that time) during their voyage on board the ship “Dmitrii Mendeleev” in 1971-72.

Both department staff members and scholars from other Russian and foreign institutions have published numerous works addressing the department’s collections (both the artifacts themselves and the history of their acquisition). The most important publications are these:

  • Barratt G. The Russians at Port Jackson 1814–1822. Canberra. 1981. 114 p.
  • Butinov N.A. Novye kollektsii MAE po kul’ture i bytu papuasov Berega Maclaya na Novoy Gvinee [New MAE collections representing the culture of Maclay Coast Papuas, New Guinea] // Kul’tura narodov Avstralii i Okeanii. Leningrad: Nauka. 1974. P. 5–26. (MAE Colections; Vol. XXX).
  • Butinov N.A., Rozina L.G. Kollektsiya s o. Paskhi v sobraniyakh Muzeya antropologii i etnografii AN SSSR [A collection from Easter Island in MAE ] // MAE Collections. Moscow-Leningrad: Nauka. 1958. Vol. XVIII. P. 305–323.
  • Fedorova I.K. Material’naya kul’tura tongantsev (po materialam MAE) [Tongan material culture, based on MAE collections] // Kul’tura narodov Indonezii i Okeanii. Leningrad: Nauka. 1984. P. 61–77. (MAE Collections; Vol. XXXIX).
  • Fedorova I.K. Zhizn’ i byt samoantsev (po kollektsiyam MAE) [Samoan life and domestic activities, based on MAE collections] // Kul’tura narodov Indonezii i Okeanii. Leningrad: Nauka. 1984. P. 78–98. (MAE Collections; Vol. XXXIX).
  • Ivanova E.V., Reshetov A.M.Formirovanie i issledovanie fondov MAE po Yugo-Vostochnoy Azii [Origin and study of Southeast Asian collections at MAE] // Kul’tura narodov Okeanii I Yugo-Vostochnoy Azii. Leningrad: Nauka. 1995. P. 5–32 (MAE Collections; Vol. XLVI).
  • Ivanova L.A. Kukovskaya kollektsiya Petrovskoy Kunstkamery: Mif I real’nost’ [Cook’s collection at Peter’s Kunstkamera: Myth versus reality] // Etnograficheskoe obozrenie. 1999. № 4. P. 62–75.
  • Kabo V.R. Kollektsiya s o. Groote Eylandt, severnaya Avstraliya [A colelctioncollection from Groote Eylandt, northern Australia] // MAE Collections. Moscow.-Leningrad: Nauka. 1961. Vol. XX. P. 154–172.
  • Kabo V.R. Motiv labirinta v avstraliyskom iskusstve i problema etnogeneza aborigenov [The labyrinth motif in Australian art and the origin of the aborigines] // Kul’tura i byt narodov stran Tikhogo i Indiyskogo okeanov. Leningrad: Nauka. 1966. P. 254–267. (MAE Collections. Vol. XXIII).
  • Kaeppler A.L. Rapa Nui Art and Aesthetics // Splendid Isolation. Art of Easter Island. / E. Kjellgren.. N.-Y., 2001. P. 32–41.
  • Kislyakov V.N. Indoneziyskie kollektsii MAE iz Leidenskogo muzeya [Indonesian colelctions of MAE from Leiden Museum] // Maklaevskie chteniya (1998–2000): Avstraliya, Okeaniya, Yugo-Vostochnaya Aziya: Narody, kul’tura, istoriya. SPb. 2001. P. 150–156.
  • Kojean P.M., Ivanova L.A. Okeaniyskaya keramika v sobraniyakh MAE [Oceanian ceramics in MAE collections] // Kul’tura narodov Avstralii i Okeanii. Leningrad: Nauka. 1974. P. 112–127. (MAE Colections; Vol. XXX).
  • Lichtenberg Yu.M. Gavayskie kollektsii v sobraniyakh Muzeya antropologii i etnografii [Hawaiian collections of the Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography] // MAE Collections. Moscow-Leningrad: Nauka. 1960. Vol. XIX. P. 168–205.
  • Putilov B.N. Pesenno-musykal’nye kollektsii MAE s ostrovov Okeanii [Collection of Oceanian songs and music at MAE] // Kul’tura narodov Avstralii i Okeanii. Leningrad: Nauka. 1974. P. 27–50. (MAE Colections; Vol. XXX).
  • Revunenkova E.V. Knigi batakskikh zhretsov v sobraniyakh MAE [Books of the Batak priests in MAE collections] // Kul’tura narodov Zarubezhnoi Azii. Leningrad: Nauka. 1969. P. 235–256. (MAE Collections; Vol. XXV).
  • Revunenkova E.V. Magicheskie zhezly batakov Sumatry [Magical wands of the Sumatran Bataks] // Kul’tura narodov Avstralii I Okeanii. Leningrad: Nauka. 1973. P. 183–200. (MAE Collections; Vol. XXX).
  • Revunenkova E.V. “Korabl’ mertvykh” u batakov Sumatry [“Ship of the dead” in Sumatran Bataks, based on MAE collections] // Kul’tura narodov Avstralii i Okeanii. Leningrad: Nauka. 1974. P. 167–180. (MAE Collections; Vol. XXX).
  • Revunenkova E.V. Kollektsiya predmetov kul’tury i byta iz Malayzii [A collection of artifacts from Malaysia] // Kul’tura narodov Indonezii i Okeanii. Leningrad: Nauka. 1984. P. 136-–147. (MAE Collections; Vol. XXXIX).
  • Revunenkova E.V. Novaya kollektsiya batakskikh zhrecheskokh knig [A new collection of books of Batak priests] // Kul’tura narodov Indonezii I Okeanii. Leningrad: Nauka. 1984. P. 120–135. (MAE Collection; Vol. XXXIX).
  • Revunenkova E.V. Istoriya indoneziyskikh kollektsiy v Kunstkamere – Muzee antropologii I etnografii RAN [A history of the Indonesian collections of MAE] // Nusantarskiy sbornik 1993/1994. SPb. 1994. P. 5–12.
  • Revunenkova E.V. Kollektsii batakskikh tkaney MAE [Collections of Batak textile in MAE] // Kul’tura narodov Okeanii i Yugo-Vostochnoy Azii. L.:SPb: Nauka. 1995. P. 94-107. (MAE Collection; Vol. XLVI).
  • Revunenkova E.V. Dayakskie kollektsii v Muzee Antropologii i etnografii im. Petra Velikogo (Kunstkamera) [Dayak collections at Peter the Great the Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography (Kunstkamera)] // Indonesia, Malaysia. Sbornik materialov po kul’ture Nusantary. SPb. 1996. P. 5–10.
  • Revunenkova E.V. Kapitan golandskogo flota P. Swan. i ego novogvineyskaya kollektsiya v Kunstkamere [The Dutch captain P. Swan and his New Guinean collection at MAE] // Kunstkamera: Vchera, segodnya, zavtra. SPb. 1997. Vol. 2. P. 109–120.
  • Revunenkova E.V. O batakskoy kollektsii Kunstkamery [Batak collections in MAE] // Maclaevskie chteniya 1995–1997 гг.s: Etnografiya, istoriya, kul’tura stran Yuzhnykh morey. SPb. 1997. P. 151–166.
  • Revunenkova E.V. Zhrecheskiy zhezl v sovremennoy zhizni batakov Sumatry [Priest’s wand in the life of modern Bataks of Sumatra] // Radlovskie chteniya 2004. SPb. 2004. P. 57–62.
  • Rozina L.G. Kollektsiya Kuka v sobranii Muzeya antropologii i etnografii [Cook’s collection at the Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography] // Kul’tura i byt narodov stran Tikhogo i Indiyskogo okeanov. Leningrad: Nauka. 1966. P. 234–254. (MAE Collections; Vol. XXIII).
  • Rozina L.G. Kollektsiya predmetov s ostrovov Obshchestva v sobraniyakh MAE [Collection of artifacts from Society Islands at MAE] // Kul’tura narodov Zarubezhnoi Azii i Okeanii. Leningrad: Nauka. 1969. P. 317–337. (MAE Colections; Vol. XXV).
  • Rozina L.G. Tapa Okeanii (po materialam MAE) [Oceanian tapa cloth, based on MAE collections] // Kul’tura narodov Avstralii i Okeanii. Leningrad: Nauka. 1974. P. 51–101. (MAE Colections; Vol. XXX).
  • Rozina L.G. W.W. Swiatlowsky – sobiratel’ kollektsiy iz Okeanii [W.W.Swiatlowsky, a collector of artifacts from Oceania] // Kul’tura narodov Avstralii i Okeanii. Leningrad: Nauka. 1974. P. 127–140. (MAE Colections; Vol. XXX).
  • Rosina L.G. The James Cook Collection in the Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography, Leningrad // Bernice P.Bishop Museum Special Publication 66: Cook Voyage artifacts in Leningrad, Berne, and Florence Museums / A.L. Kaeppler. Honolulu, 1978.
  • Shafranovskaya T.K., Azarov A.I. Katalog kollektsiy otdela Avstralii i Okeanii MAE [A catalogue of Australian and Oceanian colelctions of MAE] // Kul’tura narodov Indonezii i Okeanii. Leningrad: Nauka. 1984. P. 5–25. (MAE Collections; Vol. XXXIX).
  • Soboleva E.S. Katalog kollektsiy MAE po ostrovnoy chasti Yugo-Vostochnoi Azii [A catalogue of MAE collections from insular Southeast Asia] // Kul’tura narodov Okeanii i Yugo-Vostochnoi Azii. SPb.: Nauka. 1995. P. 207-–225. (MAE Collections; Vol. XLVI).
  • Soboleva E.S. Timorskie kollektsii MAE i MGU [Timoran collections at MAE and MSU] // Kul’tura narodov Okeanii i Yugo-Vostochnoi Azii. SPb.: Nauka. 1995. P. 78–94. (MAE Collections; Vol. XLVI).
  • Stanyukovich M.V. Neobychnaya biografiya (Roy Franklin Barton, 1883-–1947) [An unusual biography: Roy Franklin Barton, 1883-1947] // Sovetskaya etnografiya. 1979. № 1. P. 76–83.
  • Stanyukovich M.V. Muzykal’nye instrumenty ifugao (Filippiny) iz sobraniy MAE RAN [Musical instruments of the Philippine Ifugao at МАЭ] // Muzyka Kunstkamery. SPb. 2002. P. 167–175.
  • Stanyukovich M.V. R.F. Barton, an outstanding American Anthropologist, as a Research Fellow of the Institute of Anthropology and Ethnography, Leningrad, 1930–1940 // Russian-American Links: 300 Years of Cooperation. SPb. 2004, P. 34–49.
  • Triesman V.G. Predmety kul’tury I byta naseleniya Yuzhnykh Molukkskikh ostrovov (sobranie A.S. Estrina) [South Moluccan artifacts from A.S. Estrin’s collection] // Kul’tura narodov zarubezhnoi Azii. Leningrad: Nauka. 1969. P. 257–279. (MAE Collections; Vol. XXV).
  • Triesman V.G. K istorii razvitiya indoneziyskoy odezhdy (po kollektsiyam MAE) [The evolution of Indonesian clothing, based on MAE collections] // Kul’tura narodov Avstralii I Okeanii. Leningrad: Nauka. 1974. P. 140–166. (MAE Colelctions; Vol. XXX).