Collections: Australia and Oceania

The Pacific collection is somewhat diverse but quite representative, with a definite strength in the Sepik River and neighboring areas of Papua New Guinea. Phoebe Hearst contributed a number of fine pieces, purchased from dealers, such as finely carved wooden bowls from Hawaii and a ceremonial headpiece from New Ireland. In the late 1920s, Berkeley graduate W. Lloyd Warner returned with an early Australian collection. Between 1928 and 1930 the Museum obtained over 100 Maori artifacts on exchange from the Otago University Museum, New Zealand.

In 1965, the museum purchased a Trobriand Islands collection from the widow of Bronislaw Malinowski. At 1,519 pieces, it is the largest of the three made by the pioneering Polish-British anthropologist during his innovative fieldwork (1914–20). From the Sepik River region of Papua New Guinea, there are several hundred brilliantly painted ancestor figures. From the Highlands of Irian Jaya, there are collections from the Grand Valley Dani and a well-documented one from the Jalémo, gathered as part of field research by graduate student Klaus-Friedrich Koch in 1965.

Graduate research in the Pacific continued during the 1970s and 1980s: Nancy M. Williams in Australia (Arnhem Land) in 1970, Karen Nero in Micronesia (Caroline Islands, Yap) in 1978, and Maria Lepowsky in the Trobriands area in 1979. In addition to a large set of Aboriginal bark paintings, there is also a large collection of tapa cloth.


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