Plumes, Pipes and Valuables: The Papuan Artefact-Trade in Southwest New Guinea, 1845–1888

  • Susan M. DaviesEmail author
Part of the One World Archaeology book series (WORLDARCH)


Drawing on the Papuan collections held in three Australian museums, this chapter uses documented trading encounters between westerners and peoples of the southwest coast and Fly River estuary to help uncover indigenous agency embedded within collections. The case study shows how a methodology which combines an analysis of museum collections, historical sources, ethnographic studies and oral histories can provide new information about how this trade evolved in southwest New Guinea during the second half of the nineteenth century. The results highlight the importance of the social networks that lay behind choices about whether objects were either offered to or withheld from the early explorers and traders.


Torres Strait Islander Historical Source Southwest Coast Museum Collection Human Skull 
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This chapter has evolved out of the research undertaken at the Macleay Museum as a recipient of the 2007 Macleay Miklouho-Maclay Fellowship. Curatorial and library staff working at the Australian Museum, Macleay Museum, Queensland Museum and Powerhouse Museum are thanked for their assistance in providing access to collections as well as locating photograph and archival sources, in particular, Jude Philp, Rebecca Conway, Melanie Van Olffen, Vanessa Finney, Imelda Miller and Jill Chapman. I am also grateful to Paul Tacon for his comments on a draft of this paper, while Peter White is thanked for assisting with the production of a map at short notice. I am especially indebted to Robin Torrence and Annie Clarke for their encouragement and instructive comments on drafts of this chapter.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.ArundelAustralia

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