School of Art

Contact Details

School of Art
Aberystwyth University
Buarth Mawr
SY23 1NG

Tel: +44 (0)1970 622460

Fax: +44 (0)1970 622461


World Craft

By 1900 the University Museum had amassed a substantial collection of ethnographic material from the gifts of individual benefactors. A Tasmanian boomerang, Peruvian pottery, Hindu idol, umbrella from Rangoon, Siamese knives and a mushroom headed club ('taken from natives between Bombay and Pooma') are among the multifarious gifts recorded in the Calendar that year. It was intended they form a display of 'savage weapons and ornaments ... to illustrate man's work and life under the natural conditions of different regions'. ( Annual Reports, 1901)
New Guinea drum and African wooden artefacts
New Guinea drum and African wooden artefacts
Click for a larger image

Hubert John Fleure, who became Curator c.1910, built upon these collections further as an examination of human development in different environments, to illustrate the use made of available materials, believing that 'living things and their environment are inseparable and must be studied together'. After his appointment as Consulting Curator, Sidney Greenslade assumed responsibility for purchasing ethnographic material, building upon existing collections of 'world craft'. He bought ceremonial clubs and paddles of the South Sea Islands , fishing spears and digging sticks, Kabyle ceramics, African musical instruments, wood and ivory utensils and head rests, Indian, Chinese and Japanese ceramics and bronzes, and native American baskets.

In the Gallery of Crafts the weapons and implements of the Pacific Islands served to demonstrate 'human workmanship within the world'. For the Department of Geography and Anthropology they were invaluable teaching aids used to elucidate the instruction of traditional social structures, tribal ranking and tactical warfare, much of which was lost after the first European contact.