Volume 58 1949 > Volume 58, No. 1 > The Polynesian Collection of Trinity College, Dublin; and the National Museum of Ireland, by J. D. Freeman, p 1-18
                                                                                             Previous | Next   

- 1

IN the study of Polynesian ethnology artifacts collected by Europeans on first contact, or within a few years of first contact, are of special significance. They constitute a datum in terms of which the material culture of neolithic Polynesia is to be defined, and subsequent changes in form and technique calculated. It is important that all such artifacts should be located and described. The purpose of the present paper is to give a preliminary account of the exceptionally fine Pacific collection of Trinity College, Dublin (now housed in the National Museum of Ireland) which hitherto has escaped the attention of students of Polynesian ethnology. The information I have to record was collected during a brief visit to Eire in September, 1947.

The Trinity College collection contains a number of pieces which were acquired on the second and third voyages of Captain James Cook. Methodologically it is of great importance that the origin of ethnographical specimens be documented as fully as possible. Not infrequently this is a formidable task, and most of my time was spent in tracing the history of the collections under review, both in the archives of Trinity College and in the National Library of Ireland. Inasmuch as the Trinity College collection is likely to excite the interest of Polynesian ethnologists, and to be the subject of more detailed examination in the future it is proper that such evidence as I have been able to unearth should be stated in full.


The first of the two collectors with whom we are concerned is James Patten, who sailed as a Surgeon in the Resolution on Cook's second voyage of discovery accomplished in the years 1772-1775 (7, Vol. 1, p. xxix). 1 James - 2 Patten, who was born about the year 1748, was the son of the Rev. William Patten, a North of Ireland clergyman. 2 Of his capacity in medicine Cook himself has spoken well. In February, 1774, when the Resolution was cruising in the vicinity of Juan Fernandez' Land, Cook, to the grief and alarm of the whole ship's company, was taken very seriously ill with a “bilious colic.” For the patient's benefit, Mr. Forster's dog—the only fresh meat aboard—was killed and made into soup, and after several days of careful treatment the most dangerous symptoms of the disorder were removed. On his recovery Cook wrote: “Mr. Patten, the surgeon, was to me not only a skilful physician but an affectionate nurse and I should ill deserve the care he bestowed on me if I did not make this public acknowledgment.” (7, Vol. 1, pp. 274-5.)

Of Patten's opportunities as a collector and his keen curiosity in the manners and products of the peoples of the South Seas some hint is given by the younger of the two Forsters. George Forster describes, for example, the excursion into the country which was undertaken by Mr. Patten, Lieutenant Clerke and himself when the expedition visited Easter Island. (14, Vol. 1, p. 577.) Unfortunately I have not been able to find Patten's own Journal. 3 That he kept one is certain, for Sir John Pringle in his paper entitled “A Discourse upon some late Improvements of the Means for Preserving the Health of Mariners,” read to the Royal Society on November 30, 1776, mentions that he had been favoured with the sight of Mr. Patten's Journal, and quotes some of Patten's observations on the treatment of sea-scurvy.

The Resolution arrived back in England in the summer of 1775—anchoring off Spithead on July 30. Within less than a year Cook had sailed once more for the Pacific, but - 3 this time with a new surgeon. Instead of returning to the South Seas, Patten settled down in Ireland. A contemporary almanac shows that in 1779 James Patten was established as a Surgeon and Practitioner in Midwifery at 47 King Street, in the City of Dublin. (23, p. 92.) His collection of specimens from the South Pacific made while serving in the Resolution he had presented to Trinity College at least two years earlier. In the Minutes of the Board of Trinity College for July 22, 1777, there appears the following resolution: “That a room be prepared for a Museum, and that Dr. Wilson receive under his care the curiosities collected in the South Sea by Dr. Patten, and presented by him to the College. Ordered also that the College Architect give his opinion whether the great room over the gate be fit for that purpose, and, if he shall find it fit, that he shall give in plans of glass cases for it.” 4

This resolution fully establishes one source of the Dublin collection. Patten was rewarded for his gift. An entry in the Register of Trinity College dated August 2, 1780, records that “On the 31st of July it was agreed upon to grant an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Physick to James Patten.”

The second collector who contributed Polynesian pieces to the Trinity College Museum was Captain James King, R.N., the distinguished author of Vol. III of the narrative of Cook's third voyage. Captain King was the son of the Rev. James King (b. 1713). The Rev. King, who was educated at Cambridge, became Chaplain of the English House of Commons. In 1772 he was appointed a Canon of Westminster, but four years later he exchanged this position for the Deanery of Raphoe in the County of Donegal, which he occupied until his death in 1795. This fact has an important bearing on our story. Captain James King was born at Clitheroe, Lancashire, in 1750. He entered the Navy at the age of 12, and following service on the Newfoundland Station was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant in January, 1771. In 1774 he spent some time in Paris, and - 4 later at Oxford (where his brother was a Fellow of Corpus Christi College)—in scientific work. As a result he was recommended as a competent astronomer to accompany Cook on his third voyage, and in 1776 sailed as 2nd-Lieutenant in the Resolution. He returned in 1780 in command of the Discovery (having succeeded to this office following the death of Captain Clerke on August 22, 1779); and soon after (October 3, 1780) was advanced to post-rank. The next months he probably spent at his father's home in Ireland, compiling the narrative of the third voyage from the time of Cook's death onwards. (9, p. 45 seq.) The Register of Trinity College records that on January 20, 1780, James King was granted “the Degree of LL.D. by Diploma.” Towards the end of 1781, after having been attached for a period to the Channel Fleet, King was moved to the Resistance, of forty guns, in which he went to the West Indies in charge of a convoy of merchantmen. These he succeeded in conducting safely to their destination, but the anxiety of the duty is said to have turned his hair grey. In 1783 the serious state of his health compelled him to go to Nice, and there, in the October of the following year, he died, aged only thirty-four years—a Captain of the Royal Navy and a Fellow of the Royal Society.

The first documentary evidence of King as well as Patten having presented specimens to Trinity College is contained in a little book entitled The Picture of Dublin for 1811, and published in that year. The Trinity College collection is described in these words: “The Museum is a beautiful room 60 feet by 40 feet, furnished with a collection of Irish fossils and a variety of curious and exotic natural and artificial productions among which is a very good collection of curiosities from the South Pacific Ocean and the North-West Coast of America, presented by Dr. Patten and Captain King, which make a very conspicuous figure. A chief mourner's dress of Otaheite displays much taste mingled with barbarity, and the one of the naval warrior merits attention. There is also a quantity of the various cloths made from the barks of trees in the different islands of the South Seas and fishing nets well executed. The rich cloaks and feathers with the war-like weapons and drums and other instruments of music will not be passed by un-noticed.” (16, p. 91.)

- 5

This account of 1811 is an important one, for no catalogue of the Trinity College Museum has survived. Another early reference occurs in An Historical Guide to Dublin, which appeared in London in 1821. The author, the Rev. G. N. Wright, writes of the “very curious collection brought from the South Sea Islands, and presented to the University by Dr. Patten.” (24, p. 41.) The Dublin Penny Journal of October 16, 1835, gives a fuller description: “Trinity College Museum: Case No. 1, contains Ornaments from the Marquesas, Friendly, and Sandwich Islands, New Zealand and Otaheite; No. 2, Otaheitian Dresses and Models; No. 3, New Zealand Articles of Dress and Implements; No. 4, Shells ...; No. 5, Cloak made of Feathers from the Sandwich Islands ...” (II.)

Again, W. B. S. Taylor, in his History of the University of Dublin, published in London in 1845, mentions the “large collection of dresses, implements of war, and others for domestic purposes used by the South Sea Islanders, the greater part of which was collected by Lieutenant Patten, R.N., whilst he was circumnavigating with Captain Cook.” (22, p. 297.)

In 1844, Robert Ball, LL.D., was appointed Director of the University Museum, (12, p. 152 seq.) a post which he held until his death in 1857. In a report issued in January, 1846, Dr. Ball describes the Trinity College Museum as containing “a considerable collection of garments, personal ornaments, tools, etc., of various countries, many of which were collected on Cook's last voyage.” 5 Further details are contained in Dr. Ball's answers to twenty-nine questions concerning the Museum which were put to him by the Dublin University Commission of 1853. Dr. Ball describes the foundation of the Trinity collection following Patten's presentation of 1777—which still formed part of the University Museum. He notes that there was “no general - 6 catalogue of the Museum,” and that “the increase of the collections of specimens by donation and purchase had been considerable.” (12, p. 152 seq.). By 1853 the ethnographical collection had been superseded by geological and zoological collections, and these were given marked prominence in the Museum reports of the period.

In 1868 the desirability of transferring the ethnographical specimens in possession of Trinity College to a National Museum was discussed by the Science and Art Commission, but no action was taken until December 14, 1881, when W. E. Steele, M.D., Director of the Science and Art Department of the National Museum (founded 1877) wrote to the Registrar of Trinity College: “Understanding that the Provost and Senior Fellows of Trinity College possess a number of interesting objects collected by the late Captain Cook, a portion only of which are exhibited, it has occurred to me that probably the Provost and Senior Fellows would not object to present to, or deposit in, this Museum the collection in question. Should they see fit to assent to this proposal it would give me great pleasure to have the objects properly arranged, labelled, and placed in the Ethnographical Section of the Museum of which it would naturally form an important part.” (6, p. iii seq.). The Rev. Thomas Stack, D.D., Registrar of Trinity College, replied in a letter dated February 15, 1882. He announced that the Board of Trinity College proposed to present to the National Museum the “Cook Collection of Miscellaneous Articles (Clothing, etc. Connected with the Polynesian Islands).” This material was handed over in 1882 and 1885, and is listed in the Registers of the Science and Art Museum for those years. For some obscure reason none of the clubs, spears and other weapons belonging to Trinity College were deposited in the National Museum until some years later. Following further correspondence in which special conditions were laid down and agreed to, the Trinity College “Collection of South Sea Weapons” was transferred in July, 1894. Mr. Buckley, an Assistant on the Staff of the Science and Art Museum was given the task of identifying these new specimens, which “with very few exceptions possessed no labels.” It so happened that Mr. Edge-Partington visited Dublin while this work was in progress, and he was able to devote a day to “checking Mr. Buckley's - 7 identifications, and making many others.” Dr. Stolpe, the distinguished Swedish ethnologist also inspected the collection, and pronounced some of the specimens to be unique—as far as the Museums of Europe were concerned. In 1895 a special catalogue (with a Preface by the Director) was published by the Science and Art Museum with the title: Collection of Weapons, etc., Chiefly from the South Sea Islands, Deposited in the Museum by the Board of Trinity College, Dublin, July, 1894.

In the tables that follow I have listed the Polynesian collection of Trinity College as shown in the Registers (for the years 1882 and 1885) and the Catalogue (for the year 1894) of the Science and Art Museum. During my brief stay in Dublin it was not possible for me to locate all of the Trinity College specimens in the display cases of the National Museum. The descriptions given (except for one or two minor corrections) are those which appear in the Registers and Catalogue mentioned above. The specimens have been grouped in geographical areas:

(1) Polynesian specimens presented to the Science and Art Museum by the Provost and Senior Fellows of Trinity College in 1882:

Society Islands drums 3636-3640
  knife used in human sacrifices 3680
  cloth beaters 3687-3690
  fly flapper 3694
  cloth 3735
  cloth apron 3736
  bark quilts 3737-3738
  mat worn by natives when they go into the water 3739
  tapa cloth 3740-3744
  fly flapper 3745
  eye shades 3873-3874
  conical hat 3876
  tools 3885-3886
  shark-skin rasp 3887
  head-dress 3905
  chief mourner's dress 3906
Marquesas Islands gorget (fibre) 3682
  gorget (wood) 3875
- 8
Tonga wooden pillows 3641-3647
  pan-pipes 3665
  fly flappers 3695-3696
  matting 3859-3861
  kilts 3862-3872
  cuttle-fish lures 3892-3896
New Zealand flutes 3654-3656
  tiki 3703
  bone needle 3704
  cloak 3729
  garment 3730
  cloaks 3731-3732
  cloth 3733-3734
Hawai'i drinking cup 3662
  shark-tooth knife 3664
  bracelets 3672-3673
  royal spittoon 3679
  helmet 3686
  tapa cloth 3710-3722
  matting 3723-3727
  apron 3904

(2) Polynesian specimens presented to the Science and Art Museum by the Provost and Senior Fellows of Trinity College in 1885:

Society Islands gorget 188
  breast ornament 189
  wooden figure 190
Hawai'i necklet 191

(3) Polynesian specimens deposited in the Science and Art Museum by the Provost and Senior Fellows of Trinity College in 1894:

Society Islands spear 114
  hafted adzes 194-196
Marquesas Islands clubs 299-300
Tuamotu Islands spears 466-470
Austral Islands paddles 289-291
Mangaia club 50
  " 96
  " 234
  clubs 236-237
  club 246
  " 254
  ceremonial adzes 371-373
- 9
Tonga clubs 285-288
  club 292
  " 298
  " 406
  " 415
  " 417
Niue clubs 1-4
  spears 5-10
  spear 27
New Zealand spears 179-180
  mere 129
  " 185
  " 187
  hafted adzes 197-198
  taiaha 201
  paddle 428
  mere 429
  " 430
Hawai'i spear 95
  " 115
  " 363
  " 385

In 1894 the Provost and Senior Fellows of Trinity College also deposited in the National Museum a number of specimens from Fiji (52 pieces), New Caledonia (3 pieces), the New Hebrides (25 pieces), the Solomon Islands (12 pieces), and New Guinea (49 pieces). The Fijian collection is of particular interest for it is known to have been made by Professor Harvey, of Trinity College, during a visit to the Fiji Islands in about the year 1855. It consists for the most part of clubs and spears. The specimens arrived in Dublin in July, 1856, and in November of the same year (about two months after his return) Dr. Harvey delivered an address to the members of the Dublin University Zoological and Botanical Association on the Fiji Islands. The Chairman (Dr. Robert Ball) opened the meeting with these words: “Tonight Professor Harvey favours us with some remarks on the inhabitants of the Fiji Islands, whose arms, etc., you see hung around the room. Collections of this kind have been sneered at but very improperly as a right knowledge of them is of great importance in the very difficult and very high study of ethnology; a study in - 10 which the utmost penetration of the zoologist should join with the most profound knowledge of the philologist as the races of men are not less distinguished by their physical form and language than by their arms and ornaments: these things have come to have a scientific use.” It is note-worthy that a set of nine spears was given to Professor Harvey by the Rev. J. Calvert, who had himself received them from Thakombau.


As already noted, no catalogue of the Trinity College Museum has survived. A few specimens still retain labels which, though undated, are clearly of great age. Several are almost certainly those affixed when the specimens were first acquired. In the majority of cases however, there is no documentary evidence to enable us to identify with certainty the pieces actually collected by Patten and King. On all of Cook's voyages the collecting of “curiosities” seems to have been a highly popular pastime. George Forster in his narrative of the second voyage (he sailed in the Resolution with Patten) makes frequent reference to the eagerness with which all members of the ship's company acquired specimens. He notes that “not less than ten” of the elaborate mourning dresses of Tahiti “were purchased by different persons on board and brought back to England.” (14, Vol. 2, p. 72.) Captain Cook himself presented one of these dresses to the British Museum, and Reinhold Forster another to the University of Oxford. 6 A Tahitian mourning dress is also one of the features of the Trinity College collection. In all probability it is one of the ten mentioned by Forster, and was brought back by James Patten.

Objects from the South Seas aroused the greatest of interest in 18th century Europe. Omai, as Fanny Burney's Diaries attest, was the toast of London, and articles manufactured by “the Indians” were in keen demand. One mourning dress brought back to England by a seaman on Cook's second voyage was sold for the sum of “five and twenty guineas.” (14, Vol. 2, p. 75.) Private collections presented to institutions of learning undoubtedly earned - 11 renown for their donors, and it is probable that the Honorary Degrees conferred upon Patten (1780) and King (1781) were in direct recognition of the collections which they had handed over to Trinity College.

Patten's collection, it is reasonable to conclude, must have been a considerable one, for it was large enough to prompt the Board of Trinity College to found a special Museum, and to set aside a “great room” to house it. Of the size of King's contribution (which included objects from Hawai'i and the north-west coast of America) it is more difficult to form an opinion, but it must have appreciably increased the size of the collection, and in 1790 a Keeper to the Museum was appointed. The Register of Trinity College records that on June 29, 1792, further “curiosities from the South Seas” were received—this time from the Dublin Marine Society. These also must have been collected on one of Cook's voyages. Further evidence of the size and nature of the collections presented by Patten and King is contained in Gregory's description of 1811. (16, p. 91.) The Trinity College Museum we are told then occupied a “beautiful room 60 feet by 40 feet,” and Patten and King's “very good collection of curiosities” made a “very conspicuous figure.” The Trinity College collection, containing as it does many specimens dating from the second and third of Cook's voyages, is clearly worthy of detailed study.

In the time available to me in Dublin it was impossible to make even a cursory examination of all of the Polynesian pieces possessed by the National Museum. I was able however, to arrange for some of the more important pieces to be photographed. In the notes that follow, each object photographed is briefly described and commented upon. The numbers given refer to the Registers (1882, 1885, etc.) and the Catalogue (1894) of the Science and Art Museum, Dublin—now the Irish Antiquities Division of the National Museum of Ireland.

The first fifteen figures are of specimens which in all reasonable certainty were collected by Patten and King. Where a label is attached to a specimen describing it as belonging to the “Cook Collection” this fact has been mentioned. The other objects I have taken the precaution of describing as: “Probably Cook Collection.”

- 12

The last five figures are of specimens collected at a later period, which I have thought worth including to show the merit of the general Polynesian collection of the National Museum of Ireland. The Hawaiian carved figure (No. 1607/80) is an especially vigorous and stimulating piece of work, of an unusual form and a fairly early period, worthy of inclusion in any monograph on Polynesian art. The Austral Islands paddle (part of the Trinity College Collection) must be one of the most beautifully carved specimens in existence. The ceremonial adze from Mangaia (also from the Trinity College Collection) is of Class 2, as defined by Sir Peter Buck (5, p. 382 seq.). It is note-worthy for the great length of its shaft, and for its beautifully polished and notched head. This notched ornamentation is a rare feature. There is a similar specimen in the British Museum (B.M., No. 7374); and Professor Giglioli (27, p. 300) mentions two other adzes with notched ridges: one in the Archaeological Museum of St. Germain near Paris, and the other in his own collection.

Finally, I should make it clear that this paper purports to be no more than a preliminary report on the Polynesian collection of the National Museum of Ireland. It is to be hoped that at some time in the future the Dublin collection will receive the detailed study it deserves. This paper will then have served its purpose.


In August of this year (1948) while on a climbing holiday in Switzerland, I was able to visit the Historisches Museum in Berne, and examine the Ethnographical Collection made by Johan Weber, the official artist on Cook's third voyage. This collection, which consists predominantly of specimens from Polynesia, is an extensive one, and would well repay detailed study by students of Polynesian material culture. In the brief time at my disposal I was able to examine only those objects in the display cases. The following lists will give some idea of the scope of the Polynesian collection.


Small drum, bamboo flute, bark-cloth dress, head-dress and frontlet of mourning dress, strings of beads, gorget, matting, eye-shade, fly-flapper, basket, bonito lures, fish-hook, tattooing implements and mallet, coconut shell cups, hafted adze (quadrangular).

- 13

Baskets, strings of beads, combs, wooden head-rest, pan-pipes, spatula, clubs, matting garments, conch-shell.


Jade adzes, bone cloak pins, bone whistle, stone mere, wooden mere, taiaha.


Feather cloak, helmet (with feathers), feather head-band, matting, sling and stones, pig-tusk armlet, turtle-shell armlet, necklets, shark-tooth weapons, pounders, bowls, fish-hooks.


I am greatly indebted to Dr. M. Quane, Administrative Head of the National Museum of Ireland (Irish Antiquities Division), for the kindness he showed me and the facilities he placed at my disposal during my stay in Dublin; to Mr. A. T. Lucas, M.A., Officer in Charge of the Folklore Collections of the National Museum of Ireland for much practical assistance; to Mr. Edward F. Tuke, the Museum Photographer, for his excellent photographs; and to Dr. Kenneth C. Bailey, Registrar of Trinity College, for making available to me the University Records. I have also to thank Dr. H. D. Skinner, Director of the Otago Museum, New Zealand, for advice and criticism.


No. 3906/82. Chief mourner's dress, Tahiti. Labelled “Cook Collection.” George Forster's contemporary description (14, Vol. 2, p. 72 seq.) is worthy of quoting: “This remarkable dress consists of a thin flat board of semi-circular form, about two feet long and four or five inches broad. Upon this are fixed four or five chosen mother of pearly shells, by means of strings of coco-nut core passed through several holes which are pierced in the wood and in the edges of the shells. A larger shell of the same kind fringed with bluish-green pigeons' feathers, is fixed to each end of this board, of which the concave margin is placed upwards. Upon the middle of the concave margin there are two shells, which together form nearly a circle about six inches in diameter; and on top of these a very large piece of mother of pearl, commonly with its purple coating on is placed upright. It is of an oblong shape enlarging rather towards the upper end, and its height is nine or ten inches. A great number of long, white feathers from the tropic bird's tail, form a radiant circle around it. From the convex margin of the board hangs down a tissue - 14 of small pieces of mother of pearl, in size and shape something like an apron. This consists of ten or fifteen rows of pieces about an inch and a half long, and one-tenth of an inch in breadth, each piece being perforated at both ends, in order to be fixed to the other rows. These rows are made perfectly streight and parallel to each other, therefore the uppermost are divided and extremely short, on account of the semicircular shape of the board. The lower rows are likewise commonly narrower, and from the ends of each row a string hangs down, ornamented with an opercula of shells, and sometimes with European beads. A tassel or round tail of green and yellow feathers hangs down from the upper ends of the board on the side of the apron, which is the most shewy part of the whole dress. A strong rope is fixed on each side of that pair of shells which rests immediately upon the concave margin of the board, and this string is tied about the head of the person who wears the dress. The whole piece hangs down perpendicularly before him, the apron hides his breast and stomach, the board covers his neck and shoulders, and the first pair of shells comes before his face. In one of these shells there is a small hole cut out through which the wearer must look in order to find his way. The uppermost shell, and the long feathers round it, extend at least two feet beyond the natural height of the man. The other parts of the dress are not less remarkable. He puts on a mat or a piece of cloth with a hole in the middle, like the usual dress of the country. Over this he places another of the same sort, but of which the fore part hangs down almost to the feet and is beset with many rows of buttons made of pieces of coco-nut shell. The belt consisting of a twisted rope of brown and white cloth is tied over this dress round the waist; a large cloak of net-work, closely beset with great bluish feathers covers the whole back; and a turban of brown and yellow cloth, bound with a great quantity of small twisted ropes of brown and white cloth, is placed on the head. An ample hood of alternate parallel stripes of brown, yellow and white cloth descends from the turban to cover the neck and shoulders, in order that as little as possible of the human figure may appear. Commonly the nearest relation of the deceased wears this whimsical dress, and carries in one hand a pair of large pearl shells, which are clapped or beated together continually, and in the other a stick armed with sharks' teeth, with which he wounds any of the natives who chance to come near him.”

(cf.: 7, Plate XVIV; 10, Vol. 1, Plate 27, 4, Fig. 152.)


No. 190/85. Wooden figure, Tahiti. Height 8 inches. Probably Cook Collection.

(cf.: 10, Vol. 1, Plate 24, Nos. 7, 8 and 9.)


No. 188/85. Gorget, Tahiti. Labelled “Cook Collection.”

(cf.: 4, Fig. 155; 10, Vol. 1, Plate 28, No. 3; 18, Plate 20, No. 327a.)

- 15

No. 3637/82. Drum, Society Islands (?) (On left hand side of plate.) Labelled “Cook Collection.” Height, 51 inches; diameter at base, 9 inches; diameter at top, 5frac12; inches; lower 20 inches carved; 12 protruding, rectangular, carved knobs; double tautening braids.

No. 3636/82. Drum, Society Islands?) On right hand side of plate.) Labelled “Cook Collection.” Height, 50½ inches; diameter at base, 8 inches; diameter at top, 4½ inches; lower 22 inches carved; 10 protruding rectangular carved knobs; double tautening braids.

These two drums are of a type usually ascribed to the Austral Islands. If, however, they are correctly labelled as belonging to the Trinity College “Cook Collection” (they are so entered in the Museum Catalogue for the year 1882), they must have come from the Society Islands. There is some evidence to support this possibility. In his account of 1811, Gregory (16, p. 91) mentions “drums and other musical instruments” as forming a part of the collections made by Patten and King. Although Cook discovered Tubuai, one of the Austral Group, on his third voyage, no landing was made, and the natives refused to approach closer than “about the distance of a pistol-shot” when the ships shortened sail. No “curiosities” were collected. Furthermore, in two of Weber's plates illustrating Cook's third voyage (8, Plate 25, “A human Sacrifice in a Morai in Otaheite”; and Plate 28, “A Dance in Otaheite”) drums of a closely similar type to those under discussion are shown. Again Ellis, in his Polynesian Researches (13, Vol. 1, p. 282), figures two Tahitian drums which fall into the same class. Some observations made by Skinner (20, p. 309) in his discussion of two drums in the Oldman Collection are worthy of note in this respect: “An interesting point suggested by these drums is that the decorative scheme followed in the Austral and Hawaiian Islands would appear to be derived from a common ancestral scheme ... If this suggestion of a common ancestor to the decorative motives of the Australs and the Hawaiian Islands is correct, the theoretical common ancestor must be sought in the long-extinct decorative art of the Tahitian Islands. At present there is not, as far as I know, any direct evidence of such a theoretical ancestor.”

Although it is by no means finally conclusive, such evidence as does exist suggests that the two drums (above) of the Trinity College Collection, came from somewhere in the Society Islands.

(cf.: 8, Plates 25 and 28; 10, Vol. 1, Plate 15; 13, Vol. 1, p. 282; 18, Plates 17 and 18.)


No. 3640/82. Drum, Tahiti. Labelled “Cook Collection.” Height, 16 inches; diameter, 10 inches.


No. 194/94. Hafted adze, Society Islands. (On left.) Length of adze, 6½ inches; maximum width, 2⅝ inches.

No. 196/94. Hafted adze, Society Islands. (In centre.) Length of adze, 5⅝ inches; maximum width, 2⅛ inches.

- 16

No. 195/94. Hafted adze, Society Islands. (On right.) Length of adze, 8 inches; maximum width, 2⅛ inches.

All three specimens probably Cook Collection.


No. 3682/82. Gorget, Marquesas Islands. Plaited sinnet. Probably Cook Collection.

(cf.: 7, Plate 17; 10, Vol. 1, Plate 45, No. 3.)

(Note: The Trinity College Collection also includes a gorget of wood (badly damaged) from the Marquesas Islands.)


No. 3647/82. Wooden head-rest, Tonga. Length, 26 inches; height in centre, 5 inches. Probably Cook Collection.

(cf.: 21, p. 44, Plate XI.)


No. 286/94. Club, Tonga. (On left.) Length, 3 feet 9¾ inches; length of head, 1 foot ¾ inches; end of head, 5½ inches by 1⅜ inches; head lozenge-shaped in section, carved with parallel lines arranged in geometrical sections, handle decorated with squares of incised lines arranged in chequer pattern.

No. 406/94. Club, Tonga. (In centre.) Length, 5 feet 2½ inches; maximum width of blade, 4¾ inches.

No. 298/94. Club, Tonga. (On right.) Length, 4 feet 9½ inches; maximum width of blade, 5½ inches. (Blade damaged and repaired.)

All three specimens probably Cook Collection.


No. 197/94. Hafted adze, New Zealand. Greenstone blade; length, 11¼ inches; maximum width, 2⅝ inches; maximum thickness, 7/16 inch; pierced at poll. Labelled “Cook Collection.” (Collected on second or third voyage, probably at Dusky or Queen Charlotte Sound.)


No. 3655/82. Flute, New Zealand. Length, 17 inches. (On left.)

No. 3654/82. Flute, New Zealand. Length, 20 3/10 inches. (In centre.)

No. 3656/82. Flute, New Zealand. Length 16 inches. (On right.)

Probably Cook Collection.

(Hamilton (17, p. 418, Plate LVIII, Fig. 1) figures a doubleflute from the British Museum, remarking: “As far as I know this is a unique specimen.” In addition to the Trinity College specimen (above) there is also a double-flute in the Oldman Collection (19, Plate 27, No. 31).)


No. 3664/82. Shark-tooth knife, Hawai'i. Length of wooden handle, 10 3/5 inches; width, 2½ inches. Labelled “Cook Collection.”

- i
FIG. 5., FIG. 1.
- ii
FIG. 2.
- iii
FIG. 3., FIG. 7.
- iv
FIG. 4.
- v
FIG. 6.
- vi
FIG. 8 and FIG. 9.
- vii
FIG. 10., FIG. 11.
- viii
FIG. 12.
- ix
FIG. 13.
- x
FIG. 14 and FIG. 15.
- xi
FIG. 16.
- xii
FIG. 17.
- xiii
FIG. 18., FIG. 19.
- xiv
FIG. 20.
- 17

This specimen is especially interesting, for on one side of it is gummed an old and discoloured paper label bearing (in an 18th century hand) the following inscription: “A knife of the Sandwich Islands; with a knife of this kind Captain Cook was cut to pieces.”


No. 191/84. Necklet, Hawai'i. Length of hook, 4 inches. Probably Cook Collection.


No. 3686/82. Helmet, Hawai'i. Probably Cook Collection.


No. 3662/82. Bowl, Hawai'i. Probably Cook Collection.

This specimen has an old paper label affixed to it (in an 18th century hand) bearing the inscription: “A Yava Bowl of Sandwich Islands; N.B. the natives have no tools to manufacture with but shell and stone.”


No. 1606/80. Wooden figure, Hawai'i. Height, 14 inches. Presented to the National Museum of Ireland by the Royal Dublin Society in 1880.


No. 1607/80. Wooden figure, Hawai'i. Height, 24 inches. Human hair attached with nails. Presented to the National Museum of Ireland by the Royal Dublin Society in 1880.


No. 290/94. Ceremonial paddle, Austral Islands. Presented to the National Museum of Ireland by Trinity College, Dublin. Length, 3 feet 7 inches; diameter of handle, 1¼ inches.


No. 373/94. Ceremonial adze, Mangaia. Presented to the National Museum of Ireland by Trinity College, Dublin. Length, 6 feet 1½ inches.


No. 373/94. Ceremonial adze, Mangaia. Detailed photograph of 19 (above) showing lashing and notched ornamentation. The shoulder of this adze (not shown in photograph) is also notched.

  • 1. Bailey, Kenneth C.—A History of Trinity College, Dublin, 1892–1945. Dublin, 1947.
  • 2. Brigham, W. T.—“Hawaiian Feather Work,” Memoirs, Bishop Museum. Vol. 1, No. 1. Honolulu, 1899.
  • 3. Brigham, W. T.—“Old Hawiian Carvings,” Memoirs, Bishop Museum. Vol. 2, No. 2. Honolulu, 1906.
  • 4. British Museum. Handbook to the Ethnographical Collections. 2nd edition. London, 1925.
- 18
  • 5. Buck, Sir Peter—“Arts and Crafts of the Cook Islands.” B.P. Bishop Museum Bulletin 179. Honolulu, 1944.
  • 6. Collection of Weapons, etc. Chiefly from the South Seas Islands, deposited in the Museum by the Board of Trinity College, Dublin, July, 1894. Printed at the Science and Art Museum, Dublin, 1895.
  • 7. Cook, James—A Voyage Towards the South Pole and Round the World Performed in His Majesty's Ships the “Resolution” and “Adventure” in the Years 1772–1775. 2 vols. London, 1777.
  • 8. Cook, James (and James King)—A Voyage to the Pacific Ocean Undertaken by the Command of His Majesty, for Making Discoveries in the Northern Hemisphere. 3 vols. Third edition. London, 1785.
  • 9. D'Alton, John—The History of Ireland. Dublin, 1845.
  • 10. Edge-Partington, James—An Album of the Weapons, Tools, Articles of Dress, etc., of the Natives of the Pacific Islands. First Series. Manchester, 1890.
  • 11. Dublin Penny Journal. October 16, 1835.
  • 12. Dublin University Commission, Report. Dublin, 1853.
  • 13. Ellis, William—Polynesian Researches. 2 vols. London, 1829.
  • 14. Forster, George—A Voyage Round the World in His Britannic Majesty's Sloop “Resolution.” 2 vols. London, 1777.
  • 15. Giglioli, E. H.—“Della ascie litiche de Mangaia ...” Archivo per l'Antropologia e l'Ethnologia. Vol. 32, pp. 291-301, 1902.
  • 16. Gregory, W.—The Picture of Dublin for 1811. Dublin, 1811.
  • 17. Hamilton, A.—Maori Art. Wellington, 1901.
  • 18. Oldman, W. O.—“Collection of Polynesian Artifacts.” Memoirs, J.P.S. Vol. 15. New Plymouth, 1943.
  • 19. Oldman, W. O.—Skilled Handiwork of the Maori. 2nd edition. Wellington, 1946.
  • 20. Skinner, H. D.—“Three Polynesian Drums.” J.P.S. Vol. 42, pp. 308-9. 1933.
  • 21. Soderstrom, J.—A. Sparrman's Ethnographical Collection from James Cook's 2nd Expedition (1772–75). Stockholm, 1939.
  • 22. Taylor, W. B. S.—History of the University of Dublin. London, 1845.
  • 23. Watson—Gent's and City Almanac. Dublin, 1779.
  • 24. Wright, G. N.—An Historical Guide to Dublin. London, 1821.
1   In this and subsequent bibliographical references, the number preceding refers to its place in the list at the end of the paper, where full particulars are given.
2   This information was supplied to the Director of the Science and Art Museum, Dublin, in 1894, by a Miss Jenkin, who referred to James Patten as her mother's paternal grandfather. (6, Preface.)
3   I have searched without avail for Patten's Journal at Trinity College, Dublin; the National Library of Ireland; the Public Record Office, London; the Department of MSS. of the British Museum; the Admiralty; and the Royal Society. It is not listed in the N.S.W. Public Library's Bibliography of Cook. 1928.
4   This resolution was acted upon. The Register of Trinity College records that in 1790 Dr. Barrett was appointed Keeper of the Museum. I am informed by Dr. Kenneth Bailey (the present Registrar) that Dr. Barrett was a famous Fellow of Trinity. He was an Orientalist and a Biblical Scholar, and also became Librarian of the magnificent Trinity College Library.
5   It is possible that the specimens collected by James King on Cook's third voyage were not presented to Trinity College until after his death in 1784. Dr. V. Ball (Director of the Science and Art Museum) writing in 1894 states: “I have been informed by the Rev. Dr. Haughton that he was told by the late Dr. Robert Ball that some portion of the Cook Collection had been received by Trinity College through the Rev. Mr. King, a relation of Lieutenant James (afterwards Captain) King who accompanied Captain Cook on board the Resolution on this third and last voyage, and took command after Cook was murdered.” (6, Preface.)
6   Reinhold Forster also presented many other ethnographical specimens to the University of Oxford. They are now housed in the Pitt-Rivers Museum, having been transferred there from the Asmolean in 1886.