Round wooden henta board painted with figure representing the moon. [DCF Court Team 12/2/2003]
Place details: ASIA. Nicobar Islands India. Local Name: henyüngashi-kâhe Materials: Wood Plant / Pigment / ?. Processes: Carved / Painted / Incised / Decorated / ?. Dimensions: Max Diam = 580 mm Field Collector: Edward Horace Man When Collected: Before 1886 Other Owners: Edward Horace Man PRM Source: Oxford University Museum of Natural History Acquired: Transferred 1886 Other Numbers: 139 PRM Image: DCF 2007 Digital Ref Photo 20/03/2007; Collections Digital Reference Photo 20/08/2013, CD112.1 (Oct 2014)
KEYWORD: Amulet / ?Ceremonial Object / Religious Object / Figure / House-ornament / CLASS: ?Ceremonial / Religion / Figure / Dwelling / ?.
Object description: Round wooden henta board painted with figure representing the moon. A circular piece of wood with a carved figure wearing a green shirt and hat and unpainted skirt. The figure is standing on a table and is surrounded by household items tools and weapons. The background is painted red with a black band around the edge. [SM (Verve) 23/07/2013]
Department of Zoology & Comparative Anatomy. Presentation Book Vol. 1 1883-1948 ... 1887 .. [February] 10 Collection of objects from the Nicobar Islands. Being a further series of objects to complete the collection already sent inscribed fully in the Mans catalogue dated October 1886
Annual Report for Oxford University Museum of Natural History 1887 - ‘Donations to the University Museum The following is a List of the Donations which have been made to the University Museum, Oxford, during the year 1887 ... Anthropology Collection of Objects illustrating the Arts and Habits of the Nicobar Islanders, being a further series to complete the Collection already presented. Described fully in Mr Man’s Catalogue dated October, 1886. E.H. Man Esq Port Blair, Andaman Islands
Accession Book Entry - E.H. Man Esq. Nancowry, Nicobar Ids Feb 10 1887 Received 1886 Labelled 1886 - Collection of objects from the Nicobar Ids described in Mr Mans MS cat [PR VII] dated October 1886 and numbered in the catalogue in black ink ... [NB that is what the entries are referring to with 'old number'] The collection consists of: .81 82 [1 of] two charms on wood [insert] old number 138 139 [end insert]
PR VII book - Catalogue of Nicobarese objects for the University Museum Oxford October 1886 - List of objects made and used at the Nicobar Islands (Nancowry October (86) ... 139 henyüngashi-kâhe a henta representing the moon, in which Deuse (the Creator) is represented as standing and holding a wine glass in the right hand. On his left side are shewn a pair of coconut shell (hishoya item 31 [1884.7.59 - 63] a lantern, Pandanus-paste boarc (shâla-larom) a basket (chukai item 74 [1887.11.32]) an Areca spathe mat and pillow, also weapons, spoons, table, chairs etc. On the right side of the central figure are shewn a watch, boatswain's whistle, telescope, various spears (see items 11 to 21 ante) spathe mat table and decanters. In the C. group alone is Deuse ever depicted thus is probably due to the Missionaries in this the last century having laboured longer in that portion of the islands than elsewhere
'Additions to Museum' Notebook entry [page 16] - Feb 10  Collection of Objects from the Nicobar Islands. Presented by E.H. Man Nancowry Nicobars (and Port Blair, Andaman Ids) being a further series of object to complete the collection already forwarded. Described fully in Mr Man's catalogue dated October 1886. The present series is numbered in the catalogue in black Ink. Numbers 4, 8, 9, 10, 15, 22, 32, 33, 34, 35, 38, 39, 40, 41, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 50 - 55, 57, 59, 60 - 63, 66, 72 - 88, 90, 94, 96 - 118, 125, 127 - 135, 137, 138 - 144, and a few miscellaneous not numbered including leaf sail, canoe baler, cocoanut shell used for baling canoe partition for cocoanut loads, Pig spear, spear used by ... [sic word illegible], toddy vessels and filters, cocoa nut ladle, scrapers for cocoa nut paste, hanging lamp, parrot stand, slow match, Cycas paste strainer, cocoa nut leaf skirts, clothing of areca spathe and other material, fan for fanning fire. Box of spathe, spathe bucket, box for holding fowls Feeding dish of Areca spathe, betel box of spathe, Box of Pandanus leaves, cover of cooking pot, Firesticks, two kinds; Bamboo joint containing lime, Bamboo fire blowpipe, Bamboo syphon and strainer; cane tongs, cane basket 2 sizes, cane basket for garden produce, basket for carrying fowls, pig basket, basket sieve, cane strip for counting dogs [sic] Cane tally strips, cocoanut scraper of Calamus, Arca shell scraper, Mytilus shell scraper, Cyrena shell and cyproea shell used for pot making. Ray fish grater Cloth of Celtis, bark cooking vessel, Melodia fibre and other fibre, set of small cooking pots, objects used in pottery making. Flat leaf cover used in cooking, and grating put inside cooking pot, wooden scoop, pig trough, skewer, pig sticker, cocoa nut scoop, iron, hoe, rake, wooden scraper, broom, wooden pillow, cloth pillow, wooden calluder [sic], cigarette holder, pole for fruit gathering, hooked pole for lifting traps etc, adze for canoe build, tools for scooping out canoes, loin cloth and skirt, object placed at grave head for containing objects used by deceased, V shaped pegs for preventing deceased from rising, hats used in burial feasts, leaf receptacle for catching wandering spirits, carved fish eagle charm, two charms on wood, fish traps 3, harpoon line basket, net trap, variety of cocoa nut; encrusted teeth of betel chewers, specimens of hair, Bow and arrows, Photographs.
Written on object - "HENYUNGASHI-KAHE" A "henta" representing the moon with the Creator (Deuse) to propitiate spirits. NICOBARS (CENTRAL GROUP) E.H. MAN COLL. 1886 [SM (Verve) 23/07/2013]
Display history: This object was removed from case C.6.B Figures and Carvings - Andaman and Nicobar Islands, India when the case was redisplayed during the VERVE project in 2013 [SM (Verve) 23/07/2013]
PRM Display Label from C.6.B [now stored in Related Documents File] 'HENYUNGASHI-KAHE', PAINTING (HENTA) REPRESENTING THE MOON IN WHICH IS SHEWN THE CREATOR (DEUSE) IN QUAINT GARB SURROUNDED WITH VARIOUS NATIVE AND EUROPEAN UTENSILS. THE CREATOR FIGURE IS DUE TO MISSIONARY INFLUENCE, HUNG IN HOUSES TO PROPITIATE SPIRITS. NICOBAR IDS. (CENTRAL GROUP) E. H. MAN COLLN. 1886. [SM (Verve) 23/07/2013]
This object was redisplayed in case C.6.B Figures and Carvings - Nicobar Islands in 2014 as part of the VERVE project [SM (Verve) 08/01/2014]
Pitt Rivers Museum Display Label from C.6.B Figures and Carving Now stored in Related Documents File - INDIAN OCEAN NICOBAR IS. Henta, painting on wood of "The Creator" among several indigenous and imported objects; supposed to propitiate evil spirits. E. H. Man collection 1870's; 1887.11.82 [SM (Verve) 23/07/2013]
Publications history, trails & websites: Illustrated on page 132 of Amulets: A World of Secret Powers, Charms and Magic by Sheila Paine (London: Thames and Hudson, 2004) and with the following caption: 'Moon amulet decorated with sundry objects and the Creator holding a wine glass, a depiction influenced by local missionaries, Nancowry, Nicobar islands.' and credited on page 187 as 'Pitt Rivers Museum, University of Oxford, Acc. No. 1887.11.82.' Copy in RDF. [JP 6/10/2004]
Indian Antiquary, Feb. 1895, 'Catalogue of Nicobarese objects', p. 167 'Henta. Paintings, punctured sketches on Areca spathe screens or carvings on boards. They are somewhat ambitious in design, containing sometimes 7 or 8 pictures on a single screen, but ordinarily only 3 or 4. In the former, a representative of the sun surmounts the whole, or the sun and the moon are represented at the top right and left corners. The Creator (Deuse) is depicted as standing dressed in some quaint garb, on either side of him are usually shewn various weapons, implements and articles in daily use. In the sketch below him are seen huts, cocoanut trees, birds and sometimes men and women; below these domestic animals and poultry; below these again a row of men and women dancing; next come ships and canoes in full sail; and lowest of all are represented various descriptions of fishes, with the invariable merman or mermaid and crocodile. When first made, and at subsequent times of sickness, the henta is called henta-koi-henta. They are made and used in the Central and Southern Groups and at Teressa; but only in the Central Group are representations of Deuse (the Creator) ever introduced. The objects supposed to be served by the henta is, as is the case of the similar carvings and paintings, to gratify the good spirits (iwi-ka) and frighten away the demons (iwi-pòt etc).' [there are further descriptions of particular types of henta on this page] It may be that this is the object referred to in the following letter from the PRM archives: PRM Tylor papers B 13 27.10.86 EH Man to EB Tylor....I think you would be pleased to receive a henta or picture on an Areca spathe. These are quite works of art for people such as the Nicobarese, but they are so fragile that I shd have to pack one separately or in a large partition if packed with other objects. Should you wish for one and would like me at the same time to send fresh specimens of any Nicobarese objects [insert unreadable on photocopy used for transcription] that they have reached you in a broken or damaged state I shall be happy to do my best in the matter on hearing from you. The wooden henta wh. I presented to Genl. Pitt Rivers (figured in A.I. [sic - Anthropological Institute) journal vol XI pl XV fig 1) is an insignificant one compared to many that are made in this portion of the Group.
Another relevant letter is: PRM Tylor papers B13 26.6.87 EH Man to Tylor .... With regard to the collection sent to the British Museum wh was despatched on the 11th Inst and wh will I trust reach Mr Franks about the same time this letter is delivered to you, I should be glad if you could obtain a copy of the Catalogue which I sent with it and substitute it for that I prepared for you, as it embodies my latest information regarding the objects in question, and I found it necessary to correct my description of a few of the principal objects, viz the fetish-like ‘Kareau’ and ‘henta’ etc [AP Leverhulme project on founding collection 1995-1998]
Illustrated in colour on page 134 of The Pitt Rivers Museum: A World Within, by Michael O’Hanlon (London: Scala, 2014). Caption (same page) reads: '102 Painted wooden henta board; originally donated to Oxford's Natural History Museum by a noted collector and colonial official, it depicts a creator figure and a miscellany of local and imported artefacts. Nicobar Islands, India Diameter 580 mm Collected and donated by E.H. Man 1887.11.82' [MJD (Verve) 19/2/2016]
Research notes: On the donor card it says 'The Nicobar collections came in two ways 1. via the University Museum transfer in 1886 and via General Pitt Rivers own collections ... Donations volume 1 pages 12 - 15 which lists those objects given by Man to the University Museum and then transferred to PRM in 1886; with retrospective numbers', all objects need to be carefully matched against entries and where uncertain both Objects PRM and the PR catalogue entries examined to ensure the right entry has been chosen [AP 2/9/99]
Other information: Please note: The "Catalogue of Nicobar objects" PRVII book states that the figure of Deuse is holding a wine glass. However, I think it more closely resembles a fan. [SM (Verve) 05/12/2013]