A staff post by Lizzie O’Neill, Digital Collections Manager at The Hunterian and Harriet Gaston, Communications Manager at The Hunterian.
This week, we were delighted to welcome Dr Michaela Appel from The Museum Fünf Kontinente in Germany and Ngaa Kitai Taria Pureariki from Aitutaki in the Cook Islands.
They visited the Hunterian Museum and our Hunterian Collections Study Centre at Kelvin Hall as part of a special research visit to look at two items from our collection – a carved wooden figure and a carved wooden staff.
Both objects come from Aitutaki and Ngaa Kitai Taria Pureariki was able to give us new information about their origins and markings.
The carved wooden figure (GLAHM: E.360), is part of the Hunter collection – the original collection bequeathed by our founder Dr William Hunter in 1783. The carved wooden staff (GLAHM: E.438/3) came from the Andersonian Collection which was transferred to The Hunterian in 1888.
Until now we believed that the carved wooden figure came from the stern of a canoe, however Ngaa Kitai Taria Pureariki was able to tell us that it is actually from a staff and, amazingly, the markings on it represented a tribe on Aitutaki of which he is a direct descendant!
If you look closely at the picture of him holding the figure you will see that the markings of the tribal tattoo on his arm are the same as the markings on our object.
The research will be published by Dr Appel and we look forward to using the information to enrich the material we already hold on these two fascinating objects.