Oceania - Continent of Islands

New collection presentation
From 9 April 2022

The Linden-Museum Stuttgart will be showing its new collection presentation "Oceania - Continent of Islands" from 9 April 2022.


Since humans discovered and settled the island worlds in the Pacific thousands of years ago, there have been diverse connections between the widely scattered land areas in the largest sea on earth. With more than 250 everyday objects and works of art from the collection of the Linden Museum, the exhibition shows common and special features from the Pacific region.

Boat models from Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia bear witness to the importance of the sea for trade and communication over long distances. Sculptures and masks from New Guinea and the Bismarck Archipelago refer to religion and unique ceremonial art. A carved house from Aotearoa New Zealand recounts the continuing history of art and design in Oceania. Textiles, body jewellery and tattooing combine the useful, the beautiful and the ritual - in the past and present.

Interactive media shed light on the provenance of the objects, their order within the museum and how work is done there. Information on the acquisition history of individual collections brings the colonial era into focus, which meant sometimes violent social and political changes for the people in Oceania. The resulting social and cultural self-assertion still shapes them today. This is also the subject of the exhibition.

Press release (pdf)

Press photos


Hanging hook

Figural hooks for hanging objects were part of the inventory of men's houses on the middle reaches of the Sepik River. This hook combines stylistic elements such as the wave pattern, concentric eye motifs, and the crocodile figure that also forms the nose of the face.

Middle Sepik, Papua New Guinea; early 20th century
Artist: unknown
wood, pigments
Coll. Serge Brignoni, 1956; inv. no. 118876
Copyright: Linden-Museum Stuttgart, photo: Dominik Drasdow | Download


Malagan sculpture
In northern New Ireland, the motif of a man devoured by a fish is a common image used to symbolically represent death. The carving of the section behind the fins of the fish indicates that the carving may have been part of a larger whole.

Nusa, New Ireland, Papua New Guinea; early 20th century
Artist: unknown
Wood, pigments, turbo petholatus, vegetable putty
Collection F. W. Eberhardt, 1906; inv. no. 47131
Copyright: Linden-Museum Stuttgart, photo: Dominik Drasdow | Download


Gable mask
Gable masks illustrate that buildings, and in particular the great men's houses, were often considered to be female as persons. Concentric eye circles, an elongated nose, and an open mouth are found on many Middle Epic house and gable masks.

Angerman, Middle Epic, Papua New Guinea; early 20th century.
Artist: unknown
Wood, pigments
Coll. Carl Haug, 1910; inv. no. 63214
Copyright: Linden-Museum Stuttgart, photo: Dominik Drasdow | Download


Brenda Kesi (Ariré): Wo’ohohe
Fabrics with painting or appliqué served as clothing, among other things. Since the early 2000s, Ömie women have been using the traditional patterns and motifs to create innovative works of art. This work depicts Wo'ohohe, an earth spider and also creator ancestor of the Ematé, the artist's maternal clan.

Ömie; Oro Province, Papua New Guinea; 2006
Application of mud colored bark bast material
Acquired with funds from the Zentralfonds Baden-Württemberg, 2020; inv. no. S 44.414 L
Copyright: Linden-Museum Stuttgart, photo: Dominik Drasdow | Download


Chest and head ornaments
Jewelry discs with tortoise shell overlay were an adornment of men in the Admiralty Islands and were worn as chest or hair ornaments. Often the shell discs have incised decoration all around.

Admiralty Islands, Papua New Guinea; around 1900
Artist: unknown
Tridacna gigas, tortoise shell, plant fiber
Coll. Otto Stoerk, 1910; inv. no. 64045
Copyright: Linden-Museum Stuttgart, photo: Dominik Drasdow | Download


Fans
Like the dress mats from the Marshall Islands, the fans were woven from pandanus leaf strips. The inside of the handle, which is also braided, is made of bundled palm leaf strips. The Linden Museum received this fan in 1899 from Arno Senfft /1864-1909), who worked for the Jaluit Society, a trading company in Micronesia, from 1895 to 1900 and was an Imperial District Officer on Yap Island from 1901 to 1909. In an official capacity, Senfft was involved in the German seizure of several Palauan islands in 1901. In 1905, he also conducted a so-called punitive expedition in Palau. The exact circumstances of Senfft's acquisition of the property are not yet known.

Marshall Islands, Papua New Guinea; before 1899
Artist: unknown
Pandanus leaf strips, coconut palm leaf feathers, hibiscus bast
Coll. Arno Senfft, 1899; inv. no. 5162
Copyright: Linden-Museum Stuttgart, photo: Dominik Drasdow | Download


Club 'u'u
Such a club was not only a powerful weapon, it was also considered an important symbol of status and strength of its owner. At first glance, the maces from the Marquesas seem quite uniform with their face-shaped striking part, but a second look reveals a very individual design in each case. At the center of Marquesan art is the anthropomorphic figure of a tiki, whose individual aspects here form the large face. In addition to small tiki heads that form the eyes and nose, other patterns complement the face on the beating part, which is also found in a similar form on the other side of the mace head.
This mace is part of a larger collection that the Linden Museum received as a gift from Stuttgart factory owner Ernst von Sieglin (1848-1927) in 1905. Ernst von Sieglin financed several archaeological excavations in Egypt and was a patron of various Stuttgart museums, including the Linden Museum. The objects in this collection had been acquired by von Sieglin from the Hamburg ethnographic dealer "J. F. G. Umlauff, Naturalienhandlung und Museum". A provenance going back further is not yet known.

Marquesas, French Polynesia; around 1900 or earlier
Artist: unknown
Wood
Coll. Ernst von Sieglin, 1905; inv. no. 49654
Copyright: Linden-Museum Stuttgart, photo: Dominik Drasdow | Download


Malagan frieze
The frieze is symmetrical on both sides to a circular motif described as a "fire eye". At each end is a stylized fish interpreted as a symbol of death. According to Augustin Krämer, the frieze was made to commemorate Tabaramus from Sapone as well as Tutala, the son of Lebúta.

Lamasong, New Ireland, Papua New Guinea; before 1910
Artist: Lélava from the village of Hámba
Wood, pigments, turbo petholatus, pflanzl. putty, vegetable fiber
Collection Augustin Krämer, 1910; inv. no. 95545
Copyright: Linden-Museum Stuttgart, photo: Dominik Drasdow | Download


Malagan mask
The mask possibly served to lift taboos that were in place for the duration of the celebrations. The celebrations ended with the dance of a ritual expert wearing a particular mask and the subsequent revelation of the malagan carvings that had previously been shown in secret.

New Ireland, Papua New Guinea; early 20th century.
Artist: unknown
Wood, pigments, turbo petholatus, pflanzl. putty, vegetable fiber
Coll. Richard Miesterfeldt, 1912; inv. no. 79839
Copyright: Linden-Museum Stuttgart, photo: Dominik Drasdow | Download


Mask
The thin-walled mask made of hardwood has an almost naturalistic facial expression. Ornamental elements such as feathers or fiber tufts could be attached in the perforations on the lateral edges as well as on two small ledges.

Ramu/Sepik coastal area, Papua New Guinea; c. 1900
Artist: unknown
wood, plant fiber, pigment
Coll. Arthur Speyer, 1928; inv. no. 107068
Copyright: Linden-Museum Stuttgart, photo: Dominik Drasdow | Download


Neck rest
Neck rests from the Sepik region as well as the neighboring north coast often consist of a carved wooden support surface to which legs made of bent sections of rotang are attached. The design of the bearing surfaces follows motif conventions of the Sepik region and shows, among other things, human faces as well as stylized crocodile and bird heads. The object donor Albert Hahl (1868-1945) held the office of Governor of German New Guinea from 1899 to 1901. Prior to that, he was vice-governor for the territory of the Caroline Islands including the Marshall Islands (Micronesia) from 1899 to 1901. Even before this time, he officiated as imperial judge for the Bismarck Archipelago from 1896 to 1898, based in what was then Herbertshöhe, now Rabaul on New Britain. On his travels through the German colonial territory, Hahl gathered collections himself, but he also made use of the already existing and extensive network of colonial officials, traders, captains, and missionaries. A more precise provenance of the object as well as the circumstances of its acquisition are not yet known.

Aitape, North Coast, Papua New Guinea; before 1900
Artist: unknown
wood, red kelp, nassa snail, pigment
Coll. Albert Hahl; inv. no. 4462
Copyright: Linden-Museum Stuttgart, photo: Dominik Drasdow | Download


Neck rest
A common form of neck rest from the Geelvink Bai area of western New Guinea depicts two anthropomorphic korwar figures supporting a resting surface. Korwars represent individual ancestors who are considered protective beings of the living. The more unusual neck support is designed as a sculptural representation of a mammal, possibly a dog. The bent back of the animal forms the support for the head of the resting person.
The neckrest is part of an extensive collection of more than 1200 objects that Paul Kibler amassed in the northwest of the then colony of Dutch New Guinea, most of which is now housed in the Lidnen Museum. Kibler was a naturalist and entomologist and traveled to the Geelvink Bai area in the northwest of the island of New Guinea in 1912. The exact circumstances of the collection's acquisition are not known.

Cenderawasih Bay (Geelvink Bai), western New Guinea; early 20th century.
Artist: unknown
Wood, glass beads, vegetable putty.
Coll. Paul Kibler, 1930; inv. no. 110671
Copyright: Linden-Museum Stuttgart, photo: Dominik Drasdow | Download


Te Wharepuni a Maui
The carvings of this scaled-down model house were created in 1905 by Tene Waitere with the collaboration of carvers Neke Kapua and Eramiha Kapua. Born in 1853, Tene Waitere began his artistic career in the early 1890s and was one of the best known wood artists in Aotearoa New Zealand at his death in 1931. The house was commissioned by Thomas E. Donne, then director of the Department of Tourist and Health Resorts. In terms of its architecture, proportions, as well as artistic details, the house corresponds to a large meeting house Wharenui. As early as 1906, it was loaned to the New Zealand International Exhibition in Christchurch, where it was built in the context of a recreated Māori settlement. From 1907, the house then stood in a public park in Rotorua. When T. E. Donne took up a position in London in 1909, he exported the carvings to England as part of his collection of Māori artwork. There they were purchased by the Linden Museum in 1912.

Aotearoa New Zealand; 1905
Artists: Tene Waitere, Neke Kapua, Eramiha Kapua
Copyright: Linden-Museum Stuttgart, photo: Dominik Drasdow | Download


Wall panel poupou
The complete panel shows Whakaotirangi, who came to Aotearoa by boat Tama-te-kapuas. In her bag she brought the first sweet potato kūmara and other important plants to the islands.

Māori; Aotearora New Zealand; 1905
Artist: Tene Waitere (1853-1931); Ngāti Tarāwhai, Te Arawa
Wood, pāua snail shell (Haliotis spec.), pigment
Acquired 1913; inv. no. 82979.7, 82979.8
Copyright: Linden-Museum Stuttgart, photo: Dominik Drasdow | Download


Uli figure
This powerful Uli figure was the focus of ceremonies dedicated to the memory of important members of the community. Endowed with both female and male sexual characteristics, they perhaps embodied ideas of a life energy passed on equally through the female and male lineages.

Lassigi, New Ireland, Papua New Guinea; 18th/19th ct.
Artist: unknown
Wood, coconut fiber, turbo petholatus, pflanzl. putty, pigments
Coll. Albert Hahl/Wilhelm Wostrack, 1906; inv. no. 45809
Copyright: Linden-Museum Stuttgart, photo: Dominik Drasdow | Download


Uli figures
These powerful Uli figures were the focus of ceremonies dedicated to the memory of important members of the community. Endowed with both female and male sexual characteristics, they perhaps embodied notions of a life energy passed on equally through the female and male lineages.

Copyright: Linden-Museum Stuttgart, photo: Dominik Drasdow | Download


Two figures
The figures made for sale show different tattoos for women and men from Yap Island. The men's tattooing adorned large areas of the upper body including the back, while the women's tattooing adorned the arms and hands and, hidden under clothing, the hips and lower abdomen.

Yap, Federated States of Micronesia; 19th ct.
Artist: unknown
wood, cotton, hibiscus bast, pigment
Coll. Arno Senfft, 1906; inv. no. 45956, 45970
Copyright: Linden-Museum Stuttgart, photo: Dominik Drasdow | Download