The Mrs I Hetherington Collection, Samoa, Vanuatu, late 19th century



Offline Only


The Mrs I Hetherington Collection consists of mostly Samoan artefacts, purchased in 1885 by the Australian Museum for six pounds. The collection includes wonderful examples of objects commonly used in daily Samoan life, as well as more decorative items.

In 1885, Mrs I Hetherington, a resident of Sydney, sold 17 artefacts to the Australian Museum for the sum of six pounds. The collection includes 16 objects from Samoa, and one from Vanuatu, and consists of a variety of objects commonly used in Samoan culture in particular. These include fans, a dress, bark cloths, mats, neck ornaments, a basket, a fly whisk, canoe model and combs.

One object of interest within the collection is a decorative comb (selu tuinga) (B009973), which is made of dry coconut leaflet midribs, and held together with woven coconut fibre, creating a triangular geometric design. The central woven band features rows of blue glass beads, which was a common addition to combs following European contact. The comb (selu) was used when higher ranked individuals participated in ceremonies and festivals while wearing a tuinga headdress, made of human hair. The comb was used to give volume to the individuals’ hair whilst wearing the headdress.


Bark cloths; Body ornaments; Indigenous artefacts; Late 19th century; Model canoe; Pacific Island Culture; Pacific islands culture

Baskets; Combs; Fans; Floor mats; Tapa cloths

Coverage Spatial

Vanuatu; Samoa


2012-05-30 23:43

2011-04-08 15:00