Edgar Waite's 'North-west Pacific' Expedition Collection



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Collection of ethnographic material assembled by Edgar Waite in 1918, then Director of the South Australian Museum, mainly in New Ireland. He also purchased whole collections from various people living in Samarai (Papua), Rabaul (New Britain), New Ireland and the Tabar Islands. 1040 objects, 556 collected by Waite and 484 purchased from other collectors who had objects from as far afield as Manus, the Sepik and Ramu Rivers, and Bougainville. Most significant component is the malangan funerary carvings and masks from New Ireland/Tabar Islands; only the New Ireland collections in Berlin, Chicago, Sydney and Cologne are larger and more representative. Includes Waite's Field Diary (which has been transcribed) and 275 nitrate negatives/prints which have been scanned and indexed.

Researched by Barry Craig (including two field trips to New Ireland/Tabar Islands 1992, 2002). Publications: Craig, B. 1994 'Masta Bilong Faiawud.' Paradise 103: 29-31. 1995 'Following the tracks of Edgar Waite in New Guinea for the Pacific Arts Symposium in Adelaide.' Records of the South Australian Museum. 28,1: 33-52. 2007 Edgar Waite's 'North-West Pacific Expedition' - the 'hidden' collections. In, Hunting the Collectors: Pacific Collections in Australian Museums, Art Galleries and Archives. Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars Publishing. Pp. 173-195. About a third of the collection has been photographed; about 30% has been on display in the Pacific Gallery for at least 70 years. Photographs and archival material in SA Museum Archives under AA356.


Anthropological specimens; Carvings; Ceremonial objects; Field notes; Masks; Negatives

Artefacts; Belief; Body adornments and alterations; Ceremonies; Cultural images; Indigenous peoples

Edgar Waite; Ethnographic; Field diary; Malangan; New Guinea; New Ireland; Papua; Photographs

Edgar Waite

Ethnology; Indigenous artefacts; Journals; Photography

Coverage Spatial

Tabar Islands, Papua New Guinea; New Ireland, Papua New Guinea; Papua New Guinea; Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea; Samarai, Papua New Guinea; Goodenough Island, Papua New Guinea; Tami Islands, Papua New Guinea; Schouten Islands; Ramu River, Papua New Guinea; Sepik River, New Guinea; Bougainville, Papua New Guinea; Buka, Papua New Guinea; New Britain, Papua New Guinea; Manus, Papua New Guinea

Coverage Temporal


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2012-05-30 23:41

2011-03-18 17:37