1908.28.1

Book containing samples of barkcloth from Polynesia apparently brought back by participants in Captain Cook's voyages. This is one of a number of known examples of this publication.

Place details: OCEANIA POLYNESIA. French Polynesia? / Tonga? / United States of America? / / Tahiti ? Hawaii ?. Local Name: tapa Materials: Bark Cloth Textile Plant / ?. Processes: Beaten / Bound / Printed / ?. Dimensions: L = 224 mm W [closed] = 167 mm W [open] = 331 mm Maker: Alexander Shaw Field Collector: Unknown participants in James Cook's Voyages to the Pacific ? When Collected: Specimens: 1768 - 1780 Other Owners: John Josias Conybeare (1779-1824); [probably John Charles Conybeare and Mary Catherine Conybeare (née Vansittart) ?]; Frederick Cornwallis Conybeare (1856-1924) PRM Source: Frederick Cornwallis Conybeare Acquired: Donated October 1908

KEYWORD: Barkcloth / Specimen / Book / CLASS: Barkcloth / Specimen / Writing / ?.

Publications history, trails & websites: Illustrated in colour (detail) as figure 15 on page 38 of Pacific Encounters: Art & Divinity in Polynesia, 1760-1860, by Steven Hooper (London: British Museum Press / Wellington, New Zealand: Te Papa Press, 2006); caption (same page) reads: 'A Catalogue of the different specimens of cloth collected in the three voyages of Captain Cook..., compiled and published by Alexander Shaw, 1787.... One of about 40 surviving copies of a book produced in response to the great interest in Polynesian barkcloth. It contains thirty-nine listed samples from Hawaii, Tonga and the Society Islands (one from Hawaii shown), plus a further seventeen samples bound into the back. Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford.' Also listed and illustrated, with the same number on the same page and with the same details, in the French edition of the catalogue: Polynésie: Arts et Divinités, 1760-1860, by Steven Hooper (Paris: Musée de quai Branly and Réunion des musées nationaux, 2008). [JC 22 12 2006, 10 7 2008]

Illustrated in black and white (inside front cover and title-page only) as Figure 17 on page 286 in 'From the South Seas to the World (via London)', in Jeremy Coote (ed.), Cook-Voyage Collections of 'Artificial Curiosities' in Britain and Ireland, 1771–2015 (MEG Occasional Paper No. 5), Oxford: Museum Ethnographers Group (2015), pp. 256-98. [JC 9 6 2016]

Listed on page 466 of 'Les livres tapa d'Alexander Shaw: le mariage captivant de l'objet et du texte', by Fanny Wonu Veys', in Michel Charleux et al., Tapa—de l'écorce à l'étoffe, art millénaire d'Océanie de l'Asie du Sud-Est à la Polynésie orientale / Tapa—From Tree Bark to Cloth: An Ancient Art of Oceania from Southeast Asia to Eastern Polynesia, Paris: Somogy éditions de l'art; Tahiti: Association TAPA, pp. 465–72. [JC 28 7 2018]

Research notes: The book was apparently loaned to Henry Balfour (or to the Museum) in the 1890s. On 20 December 1895, Balfour wrote (on headed paper, from 'Ethnographical Department (Pitt River's Collection), University Museum, Oxford) to F. C. Conybeare: 'Dear Conybeare, I return you your copy of Cook's Tapa book, and thank you very much for the loan of it. If at any time you should think of parting with it, let me suggest that it would find an excellent home with the fine series of specimens brought home by Capt. Cook, which is in this Museum under my care, & which is kept in a series by itself instead of its specimens being scattered throughout the cases in the Museum. These things are so interesting that I thought it well to keep them all together at any rate until a complete catalogue can be published of them. With kind regards, sincerely yrs, Henry Balfour.' Original in RDF. [JC 14 7 2005]

The contents page lists 39 samples, the descriptions of which do not always seem to match the samples themselves. Also, at the back of the book are also bound in a further 17 samples; perhaps supplied by Alexander Shaw, but also perhaps added later (by the first owner?) when the book was bound. [JC 3 8 2005]

This book contains identical samples to copies in the State Library of New South Wales (Cat. no. C525), bound in almost the same order. C525 has 4 extra samples in the back. It is also identical to FERG/7143.RBnq 910.C00 in the National Library of Australia, which also has 56 samples, and the copy in Auckland Museum, which has the 56 specimens bound in a different order. It may be the case that there were three versions of the Shaw barkcloth book, each with the same text but with different samples. In all three of these volumes the paper has identical watermarks - fleur-de-lis, the date 1804, and the letters 'AP'. The PRM copy, along with the others, is probably a later edition, with samples originating possibly from the 1781 sale of material collected by surgeon's mate David Samwell, or from the sale of the Leverian Museum in 1806. (See ‘Tales and Textiles from Cook’s Pacific Voyages’, by Maryanne Larkin, in Bibliographical Society of Australia and New Zealand Bulletin, Vol. 28, no. 4 (2004), p. 20-33.) [JU 30/04/2012; JC 22 9 2012]

Listed as number 19 on page 29 of an unpublished document 'Census of Alexander Shaw's Tapa Cloth Book, 1787', compiled by Donald Kerr (Special Collections Librarian, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand) and dated August 2013. (Printout and related correspondence in RDF.) [JC 9 8 2013]