Notes

Originally Published in 1918

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The list of gifts and the list of purchases were omitted from the December number for 1917. In this number, therefore, are included the gifts and purchases for the last three months of 1917 and the first three months of 1918.

Gifts.
Dr. Charles D. Hart, a suit of Japanese armor; a copy of the Peking Gazette of 500 years ago.
Miss Ernestine A. Goodman, an American Indian collection, comprising decorated birch-bark, beadwork basketry, Navajo blankets and a fine painted hat of the Haidas.
Miss Helen B. Campbell, two decorated calabashes from Dutch Guiana.
Col. Joseph Ury Crawford, a suit of Japanese armor.
Mrs. Hampton L. Carson, a Blackfoot Indian skin dresser; a pair of Indian embroidered moccasins.
Mrs. Thomas Learning, a palm-leaf book from Southern India; a stiletto with sheath from. India.
Mr. John Moss, Jr., a piece of Spanish pottery.
Miss Beatrice Fox, a gold eagle from Panama.
Dr. C. H. Vinton, a basket from the Bontoc Igorots.
Mr. Hampton L. Carson, an Apache water bottle.
Mr. Howard Fuguet, a Cheyenne catlinite pipe with stem.

Purchases.
American Section.
A miscellaneous collection of North American ethnology.
A collection of carved stone, pottery and gold objects from Panama.
A collection of Tlingit baskets.

Græco-Roman Section.
A Tanagra figurine.
One Corinthian vase.
One black-figured Attic vase.

Section of Oriental Art.
Twenty-nine Chinese porcelains.
Two colossal stone heads.
Bronze statuette of Kwan-yin (Tibetan).
One bronze gilt statuette of Kwan-yin of the Wei Dynasty.
One large bronze jar of the Chou Dynasty.
One bronze vase of the Chou Dynasty or earlier.

Section of General Ethnology.
Fourteen ancient Ethiopian wood carvings.

Mr. Samuel P. Avery of Hartford, Conn., has made a gift to the Museum of $10,000 as an endowment for the purchase of works of art.

Mr. James B. Ford has presented to the Museum two colossal stone heads of Buddha from the Province of Honan in China. Each of these heads shows fine modelling and still retains some of the colour which had originally been applied to the surface. These two pieces are unique in this country and nothing of the kind has hitherto appeared outside of China.

Mr. Ford has also presented a very rare and precious Chinese statuette in bronze gilt. This figure represents Kwan-yin standing on a square pedestal. The inscription incised on the base reads as follows.

The third day of the third month of the third year of Tien-Ping (537 A. D.). Made for the temple on the top of the mountain Tson at Ting Chou.”

Then follows a list of forty-nine subscribers. After these names comes the passage.

“These have offered and worshipped this venerable statue in their desire for the peace of the whole world and in the hope that the future generations following their ancestors, will believe and venerate this Buddha who will protect them.”

Mr. Ford, in addition to the two gifts already described, has presented a Chinese rug of fine design and colour of the Kang-Hsi Period. This rug, which has been exhibited in the Museum for some time, measures twenty-four feet square and is in a perfect state of preservation.

Mr. W. B. VanValin of the John Wanamaker Expedition reached Point Barrow during the middle of summer, having previously sent to the Museum from Nome two collections assembled on the Bering Sea Coast. Mr. VanValin will spend the winter and next summer making collections and investigations in the neighborhood of Point Barrow.

Mr. Lammot duPont, son of Lammot duPont, A.M., Class of ’49 U. of P., has presented a pair of Chinese bronzes of the Chou Dynasty. One of these bronzes is a large and heavy piece with cover, of the type known as Lei. It has three dragon heads on the shoulder and three on the cover. These and the other decorations, wrought in bold relief, exhibit great strength and a high finish.

The other example is a small vase of graceful shape and with designs in flat relief. The decoration is distinguished by great precision and symmetry, as well as by high finish and marked refinement. Both vases are well preserved. The first has a quicksilver patina and the smaller one has a beautiful patina of dark greenish hue which gives a brilliant surface to this unique vase.

Reports have been received regularly from the Eckley B. Coxe Jr. Expedition to Egypt showing that progress has been uninterrupted. After a full season at Memphis the Expedition proceeded to Dendereh on December 1st for a short season’s work. On March 1st work was again resumed at Memphis on the excavation of the Palace of Merenptah.

Mr. Louis Shotridge, representing the John Wanamaker Expedition in Southeastern Alaska, has conducted from his headquarters in Haines various expeditions along the coast northward and into the interior. Collections of importance have been received from Mr. Shotridge.

Mr. C. W. Bishop, in charge of the Expedition to the Far East, has returned to the Museum after nine months spent in China.

Mr. Alexander Scott has continued his work in India and the collections which he has assembled are stored at Bombay awaiting shipment. It is expected that Mr. Scott will come to America, bringing these collections, during the summer of 1918.

The four halls made vacant by the removal of the Heye Collection have been assigned to the Ethnology of North and South America. Two halls have been devoted to the collections made by Dr. Farabee among the tribes of the Amazon Basin, a third is assigned to the North American Indian, a fourth is assigned to the Alaskan Eskimo and a fifth to the Northwest Coast of America. These collections have all been installed and the rooms are now open to the public.

The rooms of the American Section, rearranged by Dr. Farabee and Mr. Merwin, cannot fail to attract favorable attention. The newly installed collections have given much pleasure and afforded much instruction to visitors. The room containing the Amazonian pottery is an absolutely unique exhibit. Neither in America nor in Europe can another such collection be seen.

In the room assigned to the Alaskan Eskimo the bulk of the collections were obtained by the Director during his two trips to the North in 1905 and 1907. In this room also are included the first results of the John Wanamaker Expedition to Northern Alaska.

The room assigned to the Northwest Coast contains in addition to objects purchased from time to time and some obtained by the Director during his two expeditions, a large group of very fine and impressive art objects of the Tlingit obtained by Mr. Shotridge in charge of the John Wanamaker Expedition to Southeastern Alaska.

A special exhibition of the Art of the African Negro was arranged at the end of February. This consisted of wooden statues from the Congo and from the West Coast, as well as a series of bronzes from Benin and a group of textiles from the Bushongo.

The interest manifested in the Exhibition of Ethiopian Art illustrates the recent opening up of a newly recognized field of artistic inspiration and instruction by the close view of the art of primitive peoples that museums have provided for the use of students. Interest has of late been shown especially in the sculpture of the Negro tribes of Africa who have developed that art independently. Modern artists find in the wooden images of African deities qualities which correspond in some measure to the mental attitude and methods of work of some of the most modernized among their number. Some indeed go so far as to recognize in the carved figures and masks from the Congo, something answering to the symbolism of an advanced art cult, the mysteries of which include such rites as interpretive design, mystical conceptions of nature and certain attributes of things that are more subtle and essential than obvious.

The extent to which the seeming incongruities with which the African craftsman endowed his wooden images are due to a conscious interpretation of traditional notions about things that are not seen or to what extent they are the result of the limitations of his art or of established usage arising from mechanical necessity or of passive “style,” does not appear at first sight. Whether they correspond to the fashion of things spiritual or to tribal affectation, the truth with which we are all concerned is that in all its adaptations, approximations and departures, Ethiopian art never pretends to realism. It contrives to deliver its message in another way. In its report of mental experiences expressed in terms of natural objects and by mechanical means it is faithful to native tradition and it may be studied with profit as disclosing the mental endowment of the Negro in Africa, as illustrating his art sense and as affording a measure of his skill in execution.

On November 9th Dr. Farabee lectured before the Engineers’ Club and Affiliated Societies in the Auditorium. After the lecture the visitors went through the exhibition halls.

On November 20th the Provost of the University gave a reception in the Museum to the National Academy of Science.

On December 7th the Biological Club held a meeting at the Museum and listened to a lecture by Dr. Wm. C. Farabee on his Amazon Explorations. After the lecture the members inspected the collections in the several sections of the Museum.

During the Christmas holiday week the Auditorium of the Museum was used by the annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association, the American Folk Lore Society and the American Historical Association for their several sessions which were held in the mornings, afternoons and evenings.

The lecture course on Saturday afternoons was concluded on the 16th of March. Three changes were made in the program which was announced in the season’s booklets sent out in October. These changes were as follows.

Mr. Langdon Warner was unable to keep his engagement to lecture on February 23d on account of his absence in China. This date was taken by Mr. Charles Theodore Carruth, who lectured on ” Donatello, Sculptor of the Renaissance.”

The date assigned to Mr. Alexander Scott for his lecture on “The Art of India and Tibet” was taken by Sir John Foster Fraser who lectured on “Algeria and Morocco.” This change was brought about by Mr. Scott’s continued absence in India.

Inasmuch as Dr. Stephen Langdon was unable to return to the Museum from his Oxford post at the time when he was expected, Mr. C. W. Bishop, Assistant Curator of the Section of Oriental Art, lectured on that date upon the subject of his work in China.

The Wednesday afternoon lecture course, which was arranged for the season just closed, had to be discontinued in part because the teachers and school children of the city were unable to reach the Museum owing to the refusal of the Philadelphia Rapid Transit Company to place cars at their disposal, as had formerly been done and is done by every other city of the country.

Mr. John H. Mason has been elected a member of the Board of Managers to take the place of the late Dr. Norton Downs.

Mr. Charles L. Borie, Jr., has been elected a Manager to fill the vacancy on the Board caused by the death of Mr. Eckley B. Coxe, Jr.

To accommodate many visitors who attended the Saturday afternoon lectures and who wished to inspect the collections afterwards, the Museum has been kept open on Saturday afternoons until 6.30.

An invitation has been sent out by the Museum to all of the clubs, associations and societies in the city which have artistic interests, to make use of the collections in the Museum in connection with their work. It is desired that the members of all such organizations should enjoy the benefits of these collections. This invitation is in line with an effort being made by the Museum to bring about an active cooperation among all the art interests in the city.

Arrangements have been completed for holding in the Museum an exhibition of Mohammedan Art. In this department the Museum has acquired a few very choice examples of pottery, textiles and bronzes of Persia and Asia Minor. The purpose of the special exhibition is to afford an opportunity not hitherto enjoyed in America of studying in extensive range the artistic productions of the Mohammedan world. There are in this country in private possession many very fine examples of the early potteries, of tile work, of miniatures, of textiles and rugs which, if assembled, would illustrate very creditably the richness and variety of the decorative arts that were developed in Persia and Asia Minor from the tenth century to the seventeenth. The owners of many of these treasures have generously offered to cooperate with the Museum and participate in the exhibition for the service of the Public and the cause of education.

The Oriental scholars of America will learn with pleasure that Dr. Stephen H. Langdon of Oxford has been reappointed Curator of the Babylonian Section and that he will soon return to this country.
His University has again given him leave of absence in order that he might resume the duties of this post and carry on his important work of classifying and translating the Sumerian and Babylonian tablets in the Museum’s collection. The Sumerian studies completed by Dr. Langdon and already published by the Museum have attracted wide attention and have been received with warm appreciation as much for the scholarship as for the industry which they display.

At a meeting of the Board of Managers held on March 15th means were proposed for enlarging the scope of the Museum’s work and especially for bringing the people of Philadelphia into closer relations with the collections. In order to make the educational value of these collections as great as possible it was decided to appoint one or more Docents whose duty it will be to afford visitors such information as they may desire and to explain and interpret the exhibits.

The photographs of totem poles at Kit-wan-kool in the Skeena River Valley that appear in connection with the Legends of Kitselás were kindly furnished to the author by Canon Rix of Prince Rupert.

Cite This Article

"Notes." The Museum Journal IX, no. 1 (March, 1918): 80-87. Accessed February 21, 2024. https://www.penn.museum/sites/journal/9771/


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