Pacific Collections

Pacific Collections


Tikopia Collection

The Tikopia Collection is a collection of approximately 550 objects collected by James Spillius from the island of Tikopia, Solomon Islands in 1952 and 1953. Spillius was working as a research assistant for anthropologist Sir Raymond Firth. Firth was conducting fieldwork on Tikopia which was sponsored by the Research School of Pacific Studies. 

The collection includes 250 wooden and textile objects such as wooden bowls, headrests, tapa beaters and clubs, palm leaf mats, fishing equipment and weaving equipment. The collection also contains 300 shell adze blades. 

Shortly after being brought to Australia, these objects were deposited at the Institute of Anatomy, Canberra, where they were catalogued and photographed. In 1989, the collection was transferred back to the Department of Anthropology at the ANU, where it remains to this day. 

Not only are these significant cultural objects in their own right, they have immense historical significance due to their association with Firth’s ground-breaking research on Tikopia. This collection is a sister collection to the collection Firth made on his first trip to Tikopia in 1928-29, on which he based his influential book We the Tikopia: A Sociological Study of Kinship in Primitive Polynesia. 


Papua New Guinea Collections

The New Guinea Collection is a collection of approximately 800 objects collected by ANU anthropologists in the New Guinea Highlands in the 1950s and 1960s. The collections contains objects collected by influential anthropologists including Dr Marie Reay, Ralph Bulmer, Dr R. M. Glasse and Professor John A. Barnes. 

The collection comprises a wide array of material including shell ornaments, headdresses, tools, musical instruments, spears, axes, baskets and woven textiles. 


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Updated:  6 October 2020/Responsible Officer:  Head of School/Page Contact:  CASS Marketing & Communications