Notes

Originally Published in 1916

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The following gifts have been received since the last number of the JOURNAL went to press.

From Mr. Charles L. Freer, a photographic reproduction of his great masterpiece of Chinese painting, a landscape by Ma Yuan, the great master of the Sung Dynasty.
Messrs. Lai-Yuan & Company (Mr. C. T. Loo) have presented to the Museum an exceptionally fine Chinese lacquer screen made during the Ming Dynasty.
Mrs. George R. Kurrie has presented an embroidered pouch made by the Taku Indians.
Mr. William H. Mechling has presented to the Museum a series of Mexican cloths and a pair of moccasins.

The following purchases have been made.

Two large Chinese stone statues made during the T’ang Dynasty.
A Chinese painting representing The Subjugation of the Deluge, dated in 1587.
A Chinese bronze temple bell.
A collection of North American stone implements chiefly from Eastern United States.
A collection of ethnological material chiefly from the Southwest and from the Plains area.
A collection of Tlinkit rattles and masks.
An Eskimo collection from the vicinity of Cape Lisburne.
The last four collections mentioned were purchased through the generosity of Mr. John Wanamaker, who has also made it possible for the Museum to increase the collections from the Northwest Coast of America by maintaining an expedition in the field.

The collections made by Mr. Bishop in China have arrived at the Museum. They consist chiefly of pottery figures and pottery vessels of the Han and Tang Dynasties, as well as bronzes of these and of earlier periods. One of the most interesting specimens in the collection is a Japanese large clay sarcophagus of the prehistoric period.

A recent addition to the Museum library is the original manuscript of a journal kept by a Japanese official at the close of the eighteenth century while on a tour of inspection among the Ainu aborigines of the island of Yezo. There are in all six volumes, of which the first three contain a record of events day by day from March, 1799, when the writer and his party set out from Yedo, until their return to the capital in the following September. The other three volumes are devoted to a series of excellent water-color sketches of the aborigines and their manner of life. Architecture, house furniture, costumes, utensils, weapons, industries, sports, games, feasts, are all portrayed with the most painstaking accuracy, and with a life and vigor which prove that the journalist was a talented artist as well as a keen observer. The manuscript promises to be of considerable value in throwing additional light upon a once powerful but now nearly extinct race, at a period when their culture was very much less modified by contact with outsiders than is the case today. This interesting and valuable document was acquired by Mr. Bishop while engaged upon the work of the Expedition to the Far East.

Reports from the Eckley B. Coxe, Jr., Expedition in Egypt have continued, during the summer, to show important developments in the excavations of the great palace of Merneptah at Memphis. The work for the season was discontinued at the end of June.

Letters from Mr. Alexander Scott contain interesting reports on the progress of archaeological research in India and of the work that is being done there by the Director-General of Antiquities, Sir John Marshall. Mr. Scott has been successful in his researches on behalf of the Museum.

Mr. Robert Burkitt has continued during the summer his studies in Guatemala. Among other things he has begun a collection of the legends, folk tales and incantations of the Kekchi Indians.

Dr. E. W. Hawkes was engaged during the summer in making excavations on behalf of the Museum at Tuckerton in New Jersey, where he found evidences of ancient pile dwellings on a site which had previously been partly explored by Mr. Frank Hamilton Cushing.

Mr. H. U. Hall has been appointed Assistant Curator of the Section of General Ethnology.

Prof. A. H. Sayce, of Oxford and Edinburgh, visited the Museum in August and remained through September studying the collections of the Museum and copying a series of Cappadocian tablets in the collections of the Babylonian Section. This eminent scholar was on his way to Japan, where he has been invited by the Japanese government to deliver a series of lectures before the Imperial University.

Dr. Stephen H. Langdon, of Oxford, arrived at the Museum early in August and spent that month as well as September in collating tablets which he copied on a former visit, and in copying others of the same series for a volume of Liturgical Texts which he has just completed.

Dr. Langdon has been appointed Curator of the Babylonian Section.

Mr. William Churchill, eminent philologist and author of books on the South Pacific, has been at work in the Museum since April until the present time, making a special study of the Polynesian collections. Mr. Churchill, whose knowledge of the peoples of the Pacific, acquired when he occupied the post of Consul-General in Samoa and during years of travel and study, is very great, has rendered valuable service to the Museum in helping to classify its South Pacific collections. He has now in preparation a monograph upon the Polynesian clubs in the Museum collection.

The following memorandum by Mr. Churchill is of interest.

“You have succeeded in acquiring a collection of the ethnica of Polynesia, Micronesia and Melanesia which in the mere number of pieces ranks with the foremost assembling of such material. Nor is mere number the principal thing which is to be recorded of this collection. Many of the objects are extremely rare and for that reason of the utmost value in the study of the arts and crafts of the Pacific islanders. Several of your pieces seem to me to be unique, at least they are new to my acquaintance and are not recorded in the work of Edge-Partington and later recorders of the life of these islands.

“Your collection from that most mysterious and engaging site, Easter Island, is among the best in the world. Except for the massive statues and the excessively rare hieroglyphs, I find that you have examples of all the forms of the art of that island. At any time when it is convenient you could acquire examples of the statues if it were considered worth the expense of an expedition. The inscribed tablets were originally very few and they have long since passed into public possession and are removed from all possibility of purchase.

“I am particularly pleased with the extent of your collections in the stock types. This is quite general upon several important items. I note particularly the several types of Fijian clubs; in the items of the small missile club, the so-called pineapple club (I trust that you will change this designation to the pandanus club, for the pineapple was not known to the islands until introduced of recent years by Europeans), and the lip club; in each of these club genera you have so many and such well chosen examples that you can display in them the whole series of evolution in shape and ornament, which makes a very interesting theme.

“My intimate acquaintance with the islands extends over a generation in time and over the whole range geographically, therefore I have been able to pass upon a number of problems of disputed attribution and also have been able to evaluate the credibility of several of the field collectors from personal acquaintance with them. A few interesting cases have been noted in which the place of collection and the place of origin are not the same. I recall as of noteworthy interest a figurine of walrus ivory clearly of Alaskan origin but collected many years ago in Fiji by one of the most trustworthy of collectors, a club of distinctly Samoan provenience collected in Ysabel of the Solomon Islands, a club of narwhal ivory of which the material was secured in Bering Sea and the carving undoubtedly done by a Samoan sailor on a whaler from whose hands it passed to ownership in Santa Cruz.”

Two lecture programs have been arranged to run through the winter, one on Saturday afternoons open to the public, and the other on Wednesday afternoons for the elementary schools and high schools. The lectures will begin in the first week of November and will end in March. Arrangements are also being made for several evening lectures.

Cite This Article

"Notes." The Museum Journal VII, no. 3 (September, 1916): 195-198. Accessed February 22, 2024. https://www.penn.museum/sites/journal/9752/


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