Volume 92 1983 > Volume 92, No. 1 > A further note on the Cook Voyage Collection in Leningrad, by A. L. Kaeppler, p 93-98
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The informative essay by Yakov M. Svet and Svetlana G. Fedorova published in Pacific Studies (1978:1-19) illustrates once again the importance of original documentation for the identification of ethnographic objects in museum collections. Svet and Fedorova's article includes as appendix A the “Inventory of Objects Delivered by Lieutenant Behm from Kamchatka, 1780,” which is, apparently, the original listing of the Cook voyage materials now in the Leningrad Museum. This document is housed in the Leningrad Archives of the USSR Academy of Sciences.

Svet and Fedorova note that the list is important because it includes “objects which have never been in the Kunstkamera collection” (1978:15). Although this may be true, the inventory is also important for other reasons. The missing objects are relatively few and with the list it may be possible to locate them in the Leningrad collection. According to my calculation 1 the missing objects from the Pacific are:

  • No. 4, a fish net—possibly Tahitian;
  • No. 15, possibly a Tongan club;
  • No. 21, possibly a Tongan belt;
  • No. 23, a shell ornament;
  • No. 30, possibly a Tongan bark cloth and hibiscus fibre skirt;
  • No. 31, possibly Hawaiian feather leis;
  • No. 32 and 39, necklaces of coral and other beads;
  • Part of No. 34, possibly a New Zealand wooden comb;
  • Part of No. 35, bone fishhooks;
  • No. 36, possibly a New Zealand paddle;
  • No. 40, a pounding stone;
  • No. 41, Tongan panpipes;
  • No. 47, possibly a Tongan spear; and
  • No. 48, possibly a Hawaiian spear of the ihe type.
  • Missing from the north-west coast of America are:
  • No. 43, rope woven of sinews;
  • No. 44, Aleut shirt made of bladders;
  • No. 46, model of Aleut kayak.
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Nos 2, 3 and 45 from Kamchatka would not be from Cook's voyage, but (as noted by Svet and Fedorova) given by Magnus Behm himself.

In addition to making it possible to suggest what the missing objects might be, the list raises a number of questions and gives positive and negative information for previously questionable objects. The article by L. G. Rozina which lists and describes the James Cook collection in Leningrad (Rozina 1966:234-53), and included in the translated articles about Cook voyage collections (Kaeppler 1978b:3-17), has heretofore been considered an accurate listing of the collection. Recent correspondence with Rozina, however, indicates that she did not use the original inventory from the Leningrad archives in the preparation of her article (pers. comm. January 2, 1982). Here I will discuss two discrepancies between the inventory list and Rozina's article and the importance of dissociating the questionable articles from the Cook voyage collection.

Cloaks from the North-west Coast of America

Rozina lists, briefly describes three cloaks, and notes that these and three others will be the subject of a separate publication (Rozina [in Kaeppler] 1978b:10-11, 17). Following the museum inventory she identified the cloaks as Tlingit.2 When I was preparing the translation of Rozina's article for publication and in preparing my world-wide inventory of objects collected on Cook's voyages, this group of cloaks in Leningrad troubled me because I could not find other examples from areas visited during Cook's third voyage that were similar. My entries and notes document the problem that I could not solve at the time (1978b:10, 1978a:265). It was particularly confusing because Gunther, a specialist in the area, had apparently accepted the attributions (1972:208, 260-262). Owing to the fact that I am not a specialist in this area and that my work was primarily a presentation of the translation of Rozina's work, I included the section on American cloaks. Since that time two pieces of evidence have convinced me that at least some of the six cloaks are not part of the Cook voyage collection and this short article can serve as an errata.

In March of 1981 Jonathan Batkin and Richard Conn sent me a photograph of a feathered cloak in the Denver Art Museum. This cloak is very similar to the example in Rozina's article (No. 2520-8, Fig. 21 [Kaeppler] 1978b:10) and is well documented as California Indian. William Sturtevant verified that the Leningrad piece was in all likelihood California Indian.3

The American cloaks are not listed in the Svet and Fedorova inventory, and are catalogued in a different numerical series—2520 rather than 505. I believe that the identification of one cloak as coming from an area where it would be difficult to conceive how it could possibly have been collected during Cook's third voyage throws the whole 2520 numbered series into question.

Indeed, the feathered cloak mentioned above was, with little doubt, collected by Voznesenski (see Figure 5 in Bates 1983:38) and the others may have been collected on the voyages of Lisiansky and Golovnin. Even though collection 2520 is attributed to Major Behm in the Leningrad inventory, the American cloaks can no longer be considered Cook voyage pieces because none are listed in the original inventory. Without the American cloaks the collection corresponds better to - 95 Samwell's original characterisation of the gift to Major Behm as comprising “several articles from the different Islands we had visited in the South Sea” (Beaglehole 1967, Vol. 1 2:1248). Over the years apparently all researchers both in Russia and abroad have been misled by the Leningrad Museum inventory attribution of collection 2520 to Major Behm, and according to Holm (1982:40) one of these cloaks is now in Denmark. I regret that my work might have furthered the perpetuation of this myth. As we continue to refine documentation, I believe we can now state that in all likelihood there are no American cloaks in the Cook/Behm collection in Leningrad. The question that remains, however, is why was collection 2520 attributed to Major Behm in the first place—unless it refers solely to Nos. 43, 44, and 46 listed above.

Hawaiian Feathered Capes

The other example is more speculative, but I believe that three of the feathered capes traditionally associated with the Cook collection and included in Rozina's articles, are also not from Cook's voyage. Although this may seem pedantic, it is extremely important for stylistic analysis because the three capes it subtracts are the three which did not fit with the hypothesised baseline style.

When compiling the Hawaiian feathered cape inventory from Cook's voyages for “Artificial Curiosities” it was found that the important stylistic characteristics were the overall shape of the cape and whether the neckline was straight or shaped (Kaeppler 1978a: 62-5). Of the 30 cloaks and capes listed in my inventory, six were of trapezoidal shape while 20 had a straight neckline and shaped lower edge (including long, medium and short examples). For one (now lost) the style was unknown and three had rounded shaped necklines—these three were all from the Leningrad collection.

These three shaped-neckline capes have been a constant problem, but as their inclusion in the “Cook collection” was believed to be based on documented evidence, they had to be accounted for. In my presentation for the conference on “Capt. James Cook and His Times” I hypothesised that shaped-neckline capes might have been worn for strictly ceremonial functions while the much more prevalent styles—those of trapezoidal shape and those with a straight neckline and shaped lower edge—were used during warfare. It is no longer necessary to use this hypothesis and I believe we can now state with some certainty that at the time of first European contact the primary function of Hawaiian feathered cloaks and capes was for use in warfare and other dangerous situations and only later did the ceremonial function become important (Kaeppler, in preparation).

This can now be stated because the Leningrad inventory lists only two feather capes (not five as listed by Rozina). They are listed in the inventory as No. 14, “feather mantle,” and No. 19, “mantle of small yellow and red feathers.” Only one of the five capes is made entirely of yellow and red feathers and therefore must refer to 505-12, which has a straight neckline. Furthermore, the inventory groups certain objects together—Nos. 12, 13 and 14 are a feathered helmet, helmet band and cape, numbered 505-7, 8, 9; and Nos. 18, 19 and 20 are a feathered helmet, cape, and helmet band, numbered 505-11, 12, 13. Thus, if 505-12 is No. 19, then in all likelihood No. 14 must be 505-9, the cape of - 96 trapezoidal shape. I suspect that these two groups of objects were placed together when given to Behm and remained together until they were catalogued. 4 Preceding Nos. 12, 13 and 14 it is noted in the inventory that these three objects are part of the attire of a chief, while preceding Nos. 18, 19 and 20 it is noted in the inventory that these three are part of the attire of a warrior. The other three capes are not in the inventory. Why or when they were added to the collection and why they were given 505 numbers are unknown.

We are now faced with the problem as to what the numbering system of the Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography, Leningrad, means. Heretofore it has been assumed (perhaps incorrectly) that a numerical series number such as 505 meant that all objects with this prefix formed a documented grouping, or at least a group of objects that came into the museum at the same time. Apparently this is not the case. 5 The ethnographic collections of the Leningrad Museum form an extremely important group of objects, primarily of very early date and include important collections from the voyages of Cook, Lisiansky, Kotzebue and Krusenstern. The documentation for this early material is as important as the objects themselves and it now appears that we must go beyond the inventory books to non-associated documents.

A summary of what now appears to constitute the Cook voyage collection in Leningrad follows. It is listed according to the early inventory numbers.

  • No. 5 Tongan neckrest, 505-1
  • No. 6 Hawaiian adze, 505-28
  • No. 7 Hawaiian kāhili top, 505-2
  • No. 8 Hawaiian feathered fan, 505-4
  • No. 9 Hawaiian feathers, 505-3
  • No. 10 Hawaiian kāhili handle, 505-2
  • No. 11 Hawaiian tabooing wand, 505-6
  • No. 12 Hawaiian feathered helmet, 505-7
  • No. 13 Hawaiian feathered helmet band, 505-8
  • No. 14 Hawaiian feathered cape, 505-9
  • No. 16 Tahitian gorget, 505-10
  • No. 17 Hawaiian dagger, 505-33
  • No. 18 Hawaiian feathered helmet, 505-11
  • No. 19 Hawaiian feathered cape, 505-12
  • No. 20 Hawaiian feathered helmet band, 505-13
  • No. 22 Tahitian gorget, 505-14
  • No. 24 Hawaiian feathered chest apron, 505-15
  • No. 25 Hawaiian boar tusk bracelet, 505-16
  • No. 26 Hawaiian shark tooth implement, 505-5
  • No. 27 Bark cloth 6
  • No. 28 Hawaiian bark cloth beater, 505-29
  • No. 29 Hawaiian makaloa mat, 505-30
  • No. 33 Tahitian mourner's dress chest apron, 505-20
  • No. 34 Tongan combs, 505-22 and 23
  • No. 35 Hawaiian wood and bone fishhook, 505-24
  • Tahitian shell fishhooks, 505-25 and 26
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  • No. 37 Ray tooth object (possibly a decorative piece for a Tongan apron), 505-27
  • No. 38 Tongan basket, 505-32
  • No. 42 Tongan woven garment, 505-31

This leaves vacant the numbers 505-17, 18, 19 and 21. The three Hawaiian capes are now numbered 505-17, 18, 19, but we have no way of knowing if these were original numbers or if they were given these numbers later to fill in the vacant series. It is likely that 505-21 was the missing New Zealand comb. It now remains to attempt to locate objects in the Leningrad collection that would fit the missing list and see if they have remains of labels that would associate them with this collection.

  • CRAIG, Robert D., 1978. “The 1780 Russian Inventory of Cook Artifacts.” Pacific Studies 2(1):94-7.
  • GUNTHER, Erna, 1972. Indian Life on the Northwest Coast of North America . . . Chicago, The University of Chicago Press.
  • KAEPPLER, Adrienne L., 1978a. “Artificial Curiosities” Being and Exposition of Native Manufactures Collected on the Three Pacific Voyages of Captain James Cook, R. N. Bishop Museum Special Publication 66.
  • —— 1978b. (Ed.). Cook Voyage Artifacts in Leningrad, Berne, and Florence Museums. Bishop Museum Special Publication 66.
  • —— in preparation. “Hawaiian Art and Society: Traditions and Transformations.” Paper presented at the XV Pacific Science Congress, Dunedin, 1983.
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  • ROZINA, L. G., 1966. “The James Cook Collection in the Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography” [title translated from Russian]. Sbornik Mus. Antropologii i Etnografii, 23:234-53.
  • SVET, Yakov M. and Svetlana G. FEDOROVA, 1978. “Captain Cook and the Russians,” Pacific Studies, 2(1):1-19.
1   Robert Craig also made a tentative list of correspondences between the inventory list and the Rozina list (1978:95-7).
2   According to Rozina, the museum inventory books indicate that collection No. 2520 had been collected on the Cook expedition (pers. comm.), but see Note 5 below.
3   Sturtevant referred the piece to Sally McLendon, who is working on an inventory of this type of cloak. McLendon suggests it is a coastal variety of the somewhat better known type made by the River Patwin or Nisenan of which several examples were collected near Sutter's Fort about 1840. She further notes that the Denver cloak was acquired in the Sacramento Valley by a Boston sea captain, W. D. Phelps.
4   Nos. 13 and 20—the two helmet bands—are listed as collars and it should be noted that until recently they were exhibited in Leningrad as neckpieces.
5   According to Daniel Tumarkin (pers. comm. March 22, 1982), “Collections 505 and 2520 were delivered by M. Behm, the governor of Kamchatka, and entered the Kunstkamera in 1780. Collection 505 consists of items collected by members of the last Cook expedition as well as by Behm himself (and possibly by other persons). Collection 2520 now includes two groups of objects because in the 19th century some items collected by I. G. Voznesenskyi were added to it. The second group collected in Alaska and California in the forties of last century is now not easily separated from the first group delivered by Behm.”
6   According to the inventory, there are 14 pieces of bark cloth, but apparently these have not been sorted out.