Created across the six islands of a remote archipelago in eastern Polynesia, the art of the Marquesas is one of the world’s most distinctive and remarkable art traditions. Though exhibited in major museums around the world, Marquesan art is nevertheless poorly understood, and the formation of collections still largely unresearched.
This book documents and explores the most extensive early collection from the archipelago. In May, 1804, participants in the first Russian voyage round the world, usually known as the Krusenstern expedition after the principal commander, spent twelve days at the island of Nuku Hiva. Inspired by the science and collecting associated with the voyages of Captain James Cook, the mariners interacted with Islanders, and made extensive collections of artifacts. While the lives of the collectors and exchanges among scientists led to these artifacts being widely dispersed, the research reported here has identified some 200 objects collected during the voyage which are now in museums in Russia, Estonia, Germany, Switzerland and the Netherlands.
The outcome of years of work in museum stores and archives, Tiki reassembles a collection of exceptional importance. A set of essays contextualize these precisely provenanced artifacts historically, and in the life and environment of the Marquesas Islands. For the first time, this heritage is made accessible to Islanders themselves, and to interested scholars and curators.
Preface List of abbreviations Introduction – Nicholas Thomas
Part I – Collections 1 – Making collections: the Krusenstern expedition at Nuku Hiva – Elena Govor 2 – From Nuku Hiva to Europe: the collections’ histories – Elena Govor
Part II – Contexts 3 – Te Henua: the Marquesan environment – Pierre Ottino 4 – Nuku Hiva in 1825: Artefacts collected during the voyage of the Maria Reigersberg and the Pollux – Caroline van Santen 5 – A reflection on Marquesan art history – Nicholas Thomas
Part III – Catalogue Tiki: A catalogue of artefacts from Nuku Hiva collected or recorded by members of the Krusenstern expedition – Elena Govor with Nicholas Thomas, Maia Nuku, Julie Adams, Katharina Haslwanter, Ekaterina Balakhonova
Russian-born Dr. Elena Govor now lives in Australia, where she completed her doctorate in history at the Australian National University in 1996. Her research focuses on cross–cultural contacts between Russians and the peoples of the Pacific and Australia, which she has examined in a range of publications including ‘Speckled Bodies: Russian Voyagers and Nuku Hivans, 1804’ in Nicholas Thomas et al, Tattoo: bodies, art and exchange in the Pacific and the West (Duke University Press, 2005), and Twelve Days at Nuku Hiva: Russian Encounters and Mutiny in the South Pacific (University Hawaii Press, 2010).
Prof. Dr. Nicholas Thomas was an undergraduate at the Australian National University from 1979 to 1982; his BA (Honours) thesis, on Fijian politics, was supervised by Anthony Forge. He visited the Pacific first in 1984 to undertake doctoral research in the Marquesas Islands and has since written extensively on exploration and cross-cultural encounters and on art histories in the Pacific. He has been Director of the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology in Cambridge since 2006. Key publications: 2016, (with Maia Nuku, Julie Adams, Billie Lythberg and Amiria Salmond) Artefacts of Encounter: Cook’s Voyages, Colonial Collecting and Museum Histories. Otago: Otago University Press. 2016, The return of curiosity: what museums are good for in the twenty first century. London: Reaktion / Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 2012, (with Peter Brunt, Sean Mallon, Lissant Bolton, Deidre Brown, Damian Skinner and Susanne Kuechler) Art in Oceania: a new history. London: Thames and Hudson / New Haven: Yale University Press. Awarded the Art Book Prize
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