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The Tlingit People: Catalogue of the Kunstkamera Collections


The presentation of a new edition "The Tlingit People: Catalogue of the Kunstkamera Collections" / SPb: MAE RAS, 2007. 272 P. will be held on Monday, December 10th, 2007 in Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography (Kunstkamera) RAS.

This is the first and full publication of the Museum's unique collection which reflects the traditional culture of the Tlingit people (one of the indigenous tribes of the north-west coast of North America – the former Russian America). The catalogue that contains more than 300 illustrations was prepared for publication with the financial support of the General Consulate of the USA in St.-Petersburg within the framework of celebrating the 200th anniversary of establishing diplomatic relations between Russian and the USA.

During centuries-long history of the Kunstkamera, Russia's first museum established in 1714 at Peter the Great's decree, several hundred thousand items on the traditional culture of many peoples of the world have been collected. Among them unique collections that reflect the culture of the peoples of the former Russian America (Alaska, the Aleut Islands, Fort Ross Colony in California) occupy a special place. The first exhibits of the Tlingit collection were acquired by the Kunstkamera in 1790.

The Museum's North-American collections are of special value as they reflect the traditional culture of American indigenous peoples of the 18th – 19th centuries. The Museum possess separate Tlingit objects as well as sets of exhibits – warriors armor, shaman clothes and attributes, hunting and fishing tools. Many objects were used in various rituals. The unique style and artistic images of American north-west coast Indians have always attracted special attention of scholars and historians of art.

The publication of the catalogue crowns years-long efforts of the Department of Ethnography of America of the MAE RAS on attribution and research on rare objects some of which have no analogues in other museums of the world. With this edition some of the Museum's collections which had never been exhibited before are introduced into the scientific world. Specialists as well as wider audience will get access to rare illustrations, photographs and drawings of the 19th – beginning of the 20th centuries. The catalogue contains detailed descriptions of each of the 313 exhibits in the collection, as well as provides information on their measurements, raw materials they are made of and some archive data. All exhibits have been photographed recently and added to the Museum's data base. The catalogue also tells about the history of acquisition, registration and attribution of the exhibits. Objects are grouped into the following sections of the catalogue: archive illustrative materials, implements and home utensils, attributes of power, armor, shaman attributes. The appendix contains a glossary of all terms, ethnic and geographical names, as well as a list of mythological characters of the upper, medium and lower worlds with references to items in the catalogue which contain their images, and short information about the people who collected the objects and explored the Russian America.

Introductory articles to all sections of the catalogue and the descriptions of objects contain quotations from written sources of the 10th – 19th centuries. These are notes written by sailors, travelers, missionaries and employees of the Russian-American Company about the live of the Tlingit people.

Head of the project – Director of MAE (Kunskamera) RAS Prof. Yuri Chistov. Executive group: author of the idea, the introduction and the main sections of the catalogue Dr. Sergey Korsun; scientific editor, head of the Department of American Ethnography, Prof. Yuri Berezkin. The illustrative and photographic materials for the catalogue were prepared by members of staff of the Laboratory of visual anthropology of the MAE (Kunstkamera) RAS Stanislav Shapiro and Ekaterina Tolmacheva. The edition was prepared for publication by the publishing house "Aztec".

Authorities of the General Consulate of the USA in St.-Petersburg and Dr. William W. Fitzhugh, Director of the Arctic Studies Center of the National Museum of Natural History (Smithsonian Institution), Washington, DC, will participate in the presentation of the catalogue.

The present edition continues the series of the thematic catalogues of the Museum's collections. In 1998 a volume on Ainu collections was published, and in 2004 – a volume on Korean collections. The Museum is planning to publish a catalogue on the Alutiiq Eskimos.

Illustrations are accessible through MAE RAS web site at:

Information: +7-812-328-07-12 (office)

Entrance from Tamozhennyi pereulok