Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Cook-Voyage Collections in Germany - Tabu?!, Hanover

Neidersächisches Landesmuseum, Hanover

After visiting the collections in Gottingen, I next went to the Neidersächisches Landesmuseum in Hanover.  Their temporary exhibition, 'TABU?! Verborgene Kräfte-Geheimes Wissen' (Tabu?! Hidden Powers - Secret Knowledge) contains many objects loaned from the Cook/Forster collection in Göttingen, as well as objects from museum collections in Hanover, Braunschweig and Hildesheim, all in Lower Saxony .The exhibition concept was based around objects and ceremonies regarded by various cultures as taboo.

Tahitian Mourner's Costume, Göttingen Collection

On entering the exhibition, the first object visible was the Tahitian Mourner's costume from Göttingen.  Displayed by itself, it made an imposing start to the exhibition, accompanied by the sound of the pearlshell clappers that would have been the signal for everyone to flee from the approaching Chief Mourner.  It was interesting to see the similarities in construction between this costume and the one in the Pitt Rivers collection, and also the differences - for example the pieces of cowrie shell used on the apron as well as coconut shell, and the turtleshell used on the mask.  
Mourners' Costume mask

Near the costume were displayed a Tahitian drum and nose-flute that would also have been used in the mourning ceremony.  

Tongan baskets, Göttingen collection

The exhibition continued with a display of objects from Tonga, reinforcing the hierarchical nature of Tongan society, and from Hawaii, before moving on to cultures in Africa, Asia and the Americas.  
The exhibition served to show that the museum collections in Lower Saxony, little known in the UK, contain some amazing objects, and it was exciting to see them all together and so well displayed. 

Objects from Africa

Feather headdresses, South America