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Ethnographic and Amerindian Collection


The Collections comprise of approximately 200 items, of which 139 are Amerindian. The Amerindian collection is largely of South American archaeological and ethnographic material, and includes some important Inca and early Peruvian items donated by FJ Bremner in 1908. It is complemented by a collection of 31 artefacts, on loan from a private individual.  The remaining ethnographic collections contain items from Australia, Asia, Polynesia and Africa, and elsewhere. 

Individual items of particular interest include:-

  • A stone stele from eastern India depicting Shiva and Parvati, about 11th century. Acquired 1839:  thought to be one of the earliest items of its type to come to Britain.
  • A thangka (Tibetan scroll), showing the spiritual and doctrinal line of descent in the Gelugpa sect, presented by Hugh Richardson of St Andrews, the late pre-eminent Tibetan scholar.
  • 10 Indian paintings on glass, depicting Hindu deities, created in Southern India in the mid-19th century
  • Algonquin Indian (Cree?) bark basket, presented in either 1728 or 1738
  • A Maori war club (‘patu onewa’)
  • Four Australian Aboriginal kodjas, or clubs
  • A collection of African material, relating to the Toka, Maasai, Berti, Bemba, Gwembe Tonga and other peoples, acquired by Professor Ladislav Holy during his fieldwork and bequeathed to the University in 1997.
  • Inuit material:  a scraper and two harpoon heads made of bone

The collections provide important material evidence of social, religious, spiritual and cultural life around the world.  Certain items, such as the kodjas and Maori war club, which are made from natural materials, also represent mankind's interaction with the natural environment, as a source of material for tools and an inspiration for ceremonial objects.  Others, such as the sculpture of Shiva and Parvati, the thangka and the Indian paintings on glass, reflect on the history of art and design in different cultures.