Papua New Guinea – Other objects

Uncollectable objects

No museum collection can give an accurate reflection of a people’s entire material culture – and material culture is only one part of life. Some things are too big to collect – such as buildings or boats (although these do exist in Europe’s biggest museums). Some things are too ephemeral, or cannot be collected because they are part of people’s bodies – such as hairstyles, body painting and tattoos. Sometimes travellers collected these things by photographing them instead.


Black and white photograph of a PNG building

[1] Courtesy and copyright Royal Anthropological Institute (RAI 35649)

The photograph [1]  shows the impressive men’s house in Delena, the village where Dauncey worked.

Body art

Black and white photo of young woman with tattoos from PNG

[2] Courtesy and copyright Royal Anthropological Institute (RAI 34379)

The photograph [2] shows off the tattoos on a young woman’s back, neck, arms and legs.

mystery object from PNG

Mystery object

There are objects – and parts of objects

– in Plymouth’s Papua New Guinea collection that we have not been able to identify. We don’t know what this object was used for. Can you help?

View the record for the mystery object in Plymouth’s collection.