1928.69.200

Dance hat made from old German military helmet, with horns and hair attached. [CM]

Place details: ASIA. India / [Germany] / Nagaland. Cultural Group: Chang Naga [European German] Local Name: Unknown. Materials: Animal Horn / Animal Hair / Iron Metal / ?. Processes: Recycled / Bound / ?. Dimensions: Max H = 500 mm H [helmet] = 210 mm Max W = 485 mm Max W [helmet] = 140 mm Max D = 212 mm Field Collector: James Philip Mills When Collected: By 1928 PRM Source: James Philip Mills Acquired: Loaned 1921 Donated 1928

KEYWORD: Dance Accessory / Headgear / Helmet / CLASS: Dance / Clothing Headgear / Armour Weapon / ?.

Publications history, trails & websites: This object features in the First World War iBeacon trail launched in the Museum in January 2016. Full audio transcription available at: https://soundcloud.com/pittriversound-1/sets/ww1 [HA 07/01/2016]

A photograph of this helmet was reproduced on the cover of Bruno Latour's We Have Never Been Modern (Harvester Wheatsheaf 1993). [Dan Hicks 26/6/2018]

Illustrated as figure 30 on page 33 and discussed on page 34 of Transformations: The Art of Recycling, by Jeremy Coote, Chris Morton, and Julia Nicholson (Oxford: Pitt Rivers Museum, University of Oxford, 2000). [LP 21/6/2000; JC 9 12 2006]

Reproduced in colour on page 184 of The Nagas - Hill Peoples of Northeast India: Society, Culture and the Colonial Encounter, by Julian Jacobs with Alan Macfarlane, Sarah Harrison and Anita Herle (London: Thames and Hudson, 1990). [SM 19/10/2011]

Illustrated in colour on page 109 of The Pitt Rivers Museum: A World Within, by Michael O’Hanlon (London: Scala, 2014). Caption (same page) reads: ‘82 Dance-hat incorporating German military helmet. Naga people, India Width 485 mm Collected and donated by J. P. Mills 1928.69.200’ [MJD (Verve) 19/2/2016]

Research notes: A photograph of this helmet was reproduced on the cover of Bruno Latour's book We Have Never Been Modern (Harvester Wheatsheaf 1993, English translation). Email from Bruno Latour, 18 May 2018: "dear D Hicks I saw it in an exhibition in Cambridge histoircal museum -Anita Herlé must remember which one- and I had the feeling that it was from Cambridge Anthropology Museum. I was so taken by it that I asked to use it for the translation. HUP is a serious place I am sure they asked permision. Best BLatour" This appears to refer to the special exhibition "The Nagas", co-curated by Anita Herle and Alan Macfarlane in 1990, in the Andrews Gallery at Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, Cambridge. A write-up of the exhibition by Anita in Visual Anthropology Review reproduces a photograph showing the helmet on display, and it is clearly through this loan that Latour saw the helmet. Email from Anita, 18 May 2018: "Bruno is a family friend and has worked with my husband Simon on and off for over 30 years. He was visiting us in Cambridge and I gave him a tour of the Naga exhibition (I was then the temp curator for the larger Naga project, led by Alan Macfarlane). Bruno took numerous snap shots of the exhibition and was particularly fascinated by the helmet. He didn't tell me that he was going to use the image on the front of his book. While I was happy to see it, I was a bit annoyed as it is not a high quality image and it isn't properly credited to PRM. N.B. I've also worked with Bruno on other exhibition projects, most notably, Making Things Public. Hope this helps. Best wishes, Anita" [Dan Hicks 26/6/2018]

Discussed on page 183 of Trench Art: Materialities and Memories of War, by Nicholas J. Saunders (Oxford: Berg, 2003). In a brief discussion of Transformations: The Art of Recycling (the PRM's special exhibition), Saunders refers to the Italian prisoner-of-war toolkit (1942.7.30-.38) displayed there and comments: 'Equally significant, if more visually striking, was a dance hat from Nagaland on the Burmese borderlands of north-east India. This was made from a First World War German pickelhaube helmet brought back by a Naga who was part of a group recruited by the British to serve in the Naga Labour Corps on the Western Front in France. Adorned with horns and tassels, the helmet related to the Naga custom of headhunting trophies where the skull of a dead man is flanked by horns. This example may have been treated as a symbolic substitute of a captured enemy head and proof of valour in battle.' [JC 10 6 2016]

Discussed on pages 178-179 of The Unknown Warrior: An Archaeology of the Common Solider, by Richard Osgood (Stroud: Sutton, 2005): 'Another example of a German helmet, in this case a Pickelhaube, can be seen in the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford and serves to illustrate the distant forces on which the British Empire could call. At some point after the First [178/179] World War, James Mills visited the Naga Hills in north-eastern India and returned with a dance trophy with a difference. Unlike the traditional headhunting trophies of the region - human skulls with horns attached to the sides - this was constructed from a German spiked helmet, which had undergone the same treatment of attaching horns to the side. Presumably this object was imbued with great significance beyond that of a casual souvenir, and had been brought home by a Chan [sic] member of the Naga Labour Corps (Pitt Rivers Museum Accession Number 1928.69.308 [sic]). Indeed, Saunders (2003: 183) believes that this item, brought back from the Western Front, was a "symbolic substitute of a captured enemy head and proof of valour in battle".' [JC 1 5 2014]