Monday, 21 May 2018

Object Assessment: M.0099 medicine container from Nigeria




This object with catalogue number M.0099 comes from UCL Ethnographic Collections. It is described as a medicine container with twisted copper wire on the outside, inside it is a piece of ant-hill to be used as medicine and to be worn on the waist (Nigeria).



a)  b)

Figure 1. Front view (a) and reverse view (b) of M.0099.


The body is shaped cylindrically with a diameter of 3.5cm and the total length is 8.8cm. The thickness of the copper wire is about 0.1cm

After visual examination, it can be assumed that the metal structure is fragile and brittle, is broken on the lower part, the surface is corroded and has some small cracks and dirt (Figure 2). The entirely metal body is covered by green light corrosion. Therefore, there is an orange spot that it might indicate active corrosion. With a macro lens it can be seen black incrustations on the surface (Figure 3).



Figure 2. Close up where it can be seen the corrosion and the cracks.


Figure 3. Image showing the black incrustations on the top of the green corrosion.


To see if the metal structure was in good condition, an X-Ray was taken. The object was exposed twice with different settings. The first one was 80kV for one minute and the second one was 70kV for one minute too. Lower settings are recommended when the object is thin and highly deteriorated. The X-Ray demonstrated the interior of the metal structure is in good condition (Figure 4).




Figure 4. X-Ray of the object shows the condition of the metal structure.

To prevent further deterioration of the object it would be recommended to isolate and rehouse it, and to ensure proper handling as it is fragile. Suitable environmental controls are also recommended.

This post refers to coursework done for ARCLG142 (2017-18), one of the core courses of the UCL MA  Principles of Conservation. As part of their assessed work for this course, students were asked to investigate objects from the UCL Ethnography Collections at the UCL Department of Anthropology. Here they present a summary of their main conclusions. We hope you enjoy our work! Comments are most welcome.  

Thursday, 10 May 2018

Object Assessment- G.0111


Within the University College London (UCL) Ethnographic Collection, object G.0111 is a catalogued as “Open bowl, with black shined surface” (UCL Ethnographic Collection, 2018). According to the records kept by the Anthropology Department at UCL, the object was purchased in Jasikan, Ghana in 1962 (UCL, 2018; UCL Ethnographic Collection, 2018). The ceramic is reportedly from the Volta Region of East Ghana (UCL, 2018; UCL Ethnographic Collection, 2018). The object is approximately 12cm in diameter, 9.5cm in height, and weighs 543g. The ceramic has few decorative features apart from a molded rim, a molded base, and a single modestly sized “V” shaped mark on the interior. The vessel is in excellent condition with very few scratches or losses to the surface.

According to the object identification tag associated with G.0111, someone whose initials are “P.M.W” gifted the ceramic to UCL (Ethnographic Collection, 2018). Further research in the archives revealed the more complete name, “P. Morton- Williams” (UCL, 2018). According to secondary sources Peter Morton-Williams served as the head of the Anthropology Department at the University of Ulster in Northern Ireland (Wilson and Donnan, 2006). 

 Object G.0111 was purchased in East Ghana, though closer stylistic compari- son yields overwhelming similarities with traditional Yorba ceramics (Nanashaitu 2017). The object is important to the UCL Ethnographic Collection, as it is one of few examples of pottery from East Ghana. If the ceramic is indeed, Yoruba, then it is one of two Yoruba ceramics within the collection. This ceramic is a valuable teaching and research tool within the UCL community. Outside the UCL community, this object is significant to people who identify with or research Yoruba diasporas. 


Bibliography
Gore, C. and Morton-Williams, P. (1997) ”Remembering R. E. Bradbury: An Interview with Peter Morton-Williams”, African Arts, 30(4), pp. 36–93.
Ethnographic Collection (2018 A) ‘G.0111 Object Tag,’ (Accessed March 2018).
Ethnographic Collection (2018 B) ‘Unit1.spreadsheet,’ (Accessed March 2018).
European Country of Origin Information Network (ECOIN), (2018) ‘Immi- gration and Refugee Board of Canada,’ Available at: https://www.ecoi.net/en/ document/1087002.html (Accessed on: 27 March 2018).
Mobile Cinema (2011) African Politics in Transit,’ Available at: https:// cinemaintransit.wordpress.com/2011/01/11/peter-morton-williams-anthropology- mobile-cinema/ (Accessed February 28 2018)
Morton-Williams, P. (1960a) ‘The Yoruba Ogboni Cult in Oyo’, Africa, 30(4): pp. 362-374.
Morton-Williams, P. (1960b) ‘Yoruba Responses to the Fear of Death,’ Africa, 30(1), pp. 34-40.
Morton-Williams, P. (1964a) ‘The Oyo, Yoruba, and the Atlantic Trade, 1670-1830’, Journal of the Historical Society of Nigeria, 3(1), pp. 25-45.
Morton-Williams, P. (1964b) ‘An outline of the Cosmology and Cult orga- nization of Oyo Yoruba, Africa, 34(3), pp. 336-353.
Morton-Williams, P. (1969) ‘ The Influence of Habitat and Trade on the Polities of Oyo and Ashanti’, In M Douglas and P.M. Kaberry (eds.) Man in Africa. pp. 79-95.
21
Morton-Williams, P. (1995) ‘Two Yoruba Brass Pillars’, African Arts, 28(3), pp. 60–92.
Morton-Williams, P. (2005) ‘A Superb Yoruba Horseman,’ African Arts, 38(1), pp. 72–73.
Nanashaitu, U. (2017) ‘The Indigenous Yoruba Pottery: Processes and Prod- ucts,’ Research on Humanities and Social Sciences, 7(20), pp. 52-63.
Nanashaitu, U. (2017) ‘An Appraisal Of Traditional Yoru`b ́a Pottery and Potters,’ Global Journal of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences, 5(6), pp. 17-25.
O’Grady, C. (2018) ‘ARCLG139: Skills for Conservation Management- Con- servation Survey (Lecture)’, University College London, 6 February. London: Institute of Archaeology.
Signal and Noise: Media infrastructure and Urban Culture in Nigeria.https:// books.google.co.uk/books?id=wMEsnetoY Cpg = PA95lpg = PA95dq = professor+ peter + morton + williamssource(Accessedon : 4April2018
South Eastern Museum: Development Program (2017) Object Condition Assessment Framework. Available at: http://southeastmuseums.org/ob ject- condition-assessment-framework.WrpeQhPyuLI (Accessed on 3 April 2018).
Tate (2017) Condition Report Guidelines. Available at: http://www.tate.org.uk/ about-us/projects/matters-media-art/lending-time-based-media-2005/condition- report-guidelines (Accessed on 3 April 2018).
Thomson, G. (1986) The Museum Environment. 2nd Edition. Oxford: Butterforth-Heinemann.
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UCL (2018) ARCLG124 Objects 2018. Internal Ethnographic Collection Re- port. Unpublished.
UCL: Ethnographic Collections (2017) ‘G.0111.’ Available at: http:// eth- cat.museums.ucl.ac.uk/detail.aspx (Accessed on 27 March 2018).
UCL: Ethnographic Collections (2017) ‘G.0110.’ Available at: http:// eth- cat.museums.ucl.ac.uk/detail.aspx (Accessed on 27 March 2018).
Victoria and Albert Museum (2009) ‘Making a Statement: Improving the Condition Reporting Process, ‘Conservation Journal, 57, pp.
Williams, T.M and Donnan H. (2006) The Anthropology of Ireland. Oxford, UK: Berg Publishers. 

This post refers to coursework done for ARCLG142 (2017-18), one of the core courses of the UCL MA  Principles of Conservation. As part of their assessed work for this course, students were asked to investigate objects from the UCL Ethnography Collections at the UCL Department of Anthropology. Here they present a summary of their main conclusions. We hope you enjoy our work! Comments are most welcome.  

Wednesday, 9 May 2018

Object Assessment - Double rattle


The double rattle is made of white wood and carved with one male face and one female face on each end but opposite sides. The whole rattle is painted with white pigment which has faded and other colour pigments were used to draw different patterns on the rattle. There are also crossing patterns which are painted with red, yellow and black pigments on both hollows. Some red and yellow pigments have faded, but pink and light yellow colour remains were left on the rattle. Each hollow has three sticks attached inside with a straw rope. There are some small holes on the rattle as well. On one side of the rattle, this object's accession number 'K.19' was written with acrylic coating. The main body of the rattle is 279mm in length and 45mm in height. The handle part is 45mm in width while the hollow part is 90mm in width. The depth of the hollows is 51mm. 

 Figure.1 Double rattle
 Figure.2 Hollow
 Figure.3 Faded pigments
This double rattle is used for junior Ekpe dances by Ibibios. Ekpe is a very important society which is related to village councils in Ibibio villages (Lieber, 1971). Dancing is a very important activity for Ekpe, during masquerader dancing, the member of Ekpe will hold the rattle in each hand (Ottenberg, 2012). The colour and patterns of this double rattle are related to Ekpe society. Yellow, red and white are significant colours which are used to show members' rank in Ekpe society (Lieber, 1971). Moreover, white and yellow masks represent the souls of ancestors through the dances during festivals. The yellow belts with red dots and black lines and a long cone on each side could symbolize leopard which has totemic significance for the society (Lieber, 1971).

This object can be valuable as evidence to explore the status of men and women and the trend in Ibibio communities, since 'Ekpe' in Ibibio can also be called 'Egbo', and Egbo was originally a women's secret society (Talbot, 1923) which became a secret society only for men afterwards. On the double rattle, man and woman's faces are in each end of the rattle, which may show gender status in this community. Compared with other double rattles, this object could have higher aesthetic and technical values. This object was painted in bright colours and the raw material of this rattle is bright coloured wood rather than dark one. Human face decoration is also rare among double rattles. The hollows have curved surfaces which is technically harder to make compared with normal square hollow rattles.



References

Lieber, J. (1971). Efik and Ibibio villages. Ibadan: Univ. of Ibadan. 

Ottenberg, S. (2012). Objects from a Colonial War: The Dyer Collection. African Arts, 45(2), pp.70-81.

Talbot, P. (1923). Life in southern Nigeria: The magic, beliefs and customs of the Ibibio tribe. London: Macmillan, p.170. 

This post refers to coursework done for ARCLG142 (2017-18), one of the core courses of the UCL MA  Principles of Conservation. As part of their assessed work for this course, students were asked to investigate objects from the UCL EthnographyCollections at the UCL Department of Anthropology. Here they present a summary of their main conclusions. We hope you enjoy our work! Comments are most welcome.  

Object Research and Condition Assessment-Necklace J.0072


Object J.0072 (Figure 1) is part of the Ethnographic Collections at UCL. This is a teaching collection of the department of Anthropology at UCL and includes objects from Africa, Asia and the Americas. Object J.0072 is a wire necklace measuring 43.5 cm in length with a diameter of approximately 13 cm. The object weighs 17.86 cm and is composed of 15 coils. The object’s label indicates that it was ‘copied by Chaco Indians from Paraguay troops’.

 Figure 1. Object J.0072-Wire necklace



The necklace was given to the Ethnographic Collection by C.W. Gibbons. Gibbons was part of the South American Missionary Society and spent five years in the Paraguayan Chaco with them during the beginning of the 20th century (D. Mercier, pers. comm., 2018). Unfortunately, there is no record of the date of acquisition nor of the name of the particular indigenous group that manufactured the necklace.

It can be estimated that the necklace was crafted by the indigenous groups that had the most contact with the Mission. These were the Lengua, Angaité and Sanapaná (Henriksen 1888). The indigenous people of Chaco adorned themselves with necklaces made from shells, glass beads, seeds, bird feathers and bone (Escobar 1993). The wire necklace is a unique example, since the indigenous groups of this area rarely employed metal in their crafts. It is possible that the necklace was crafted some time during or after the Chaco War of 1932, as this would have exposed the natives to the Paraguayan troops.
Necklaces were considered a status symbol and represented different ethnic groups (Escobar 1993). This necklace also had economic value, particularly due to its material. Wrought iron was scarce in the 19th century and became valuable (Plá 1976). It was concluded that the metal was ferrous in composition when it reacted to a magnet. The object is stable, however there is corrosion on several of its components (Figure 2).
Figure 2. Detail of corrosion on object J.0072.


The object is also broken and potentially missing parts (Figure 3).

 
Figure 3. Detail of broken part of object.

It is advisable to store the object in a proper mount and packaging. This will allow for a controlled environment and will hinder the corrosion process that is currently accelerated by the fluctuations in relative humidity.


References:

UCL Ethnographic Collections’ Catalogue, 2018. Available from World Wide Web: http://ethcat.museums.ucl.ac.uk/detail.aspx
Escobar, T., 1993. La Belleza de los Otros: Arte Indígena del Paraguay. Asunción: Editora Litocolor S.R.L.
Henriksen, A., 1888. The following is the report of Mr. Henriksen on his expedition to the Indians of Paraguay. The South American Missionary Magazine XXII, 11-14. London: Spottiswoode and Co.
Plá, J., 1976. The British in Paraguay: 1850-1870. Translated by Brian Charles MacDermot. Richmond: The Richmond Publishing Co. Ltd.


Photos by C. Russo.

This post refers to coursework done for ARCLG142 (2017-18), one of the core courses of the UCL MA  Principles of Conservation. As part of their assessed work for this course, students were asked to investigate objects from the UCL EthnographyCollections at the UCL Department of Anthropology. Here they present a summary of their main conclusions. We hope you enjoy our work! Comments are most welcome.

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