An enduring friendship
Ned David, Magan, 2015:
In terms of what I tell my children and, you know, my grandchildren ... this is evidence of our people, how they lived their life. How they celebrated life.
Maino was an influential leader in the Torres Strait. Alfred Cort Haddon met him when he visited Tudu, in Magan country in the Torres Strait, in 1888. Later they travelled together to New Guinea and around the islands of the Torres Strait, with Maino providing Haddon with valuable cultural information. They became good friends, and Maino’s contributions were crucial to Haddon’s work.
Letter from Alfred Cort Haddon to his son, 1888:
I have bought a lot of bows and arrows and a shield and a great many other curious things which you will all like to see.
After Haddon returned to England, they exchanged letters, and worked together again during Haddon’s extended visit to the Torres Strait in 1898. Haddon visited Maino again in 1912, when he went to Tudu with his daughter.
Haddon acquired the dangal (dugong) charm (below) and the headdresses and string figures on display in Encounters in 1888, soon after he and Maino first met.
Ned David, Magan, 2015:
The artefacts that the old fella [Maino] had given to Haddon, to us today ... you can’t place a value ... on how important it is to us.
Haddon took a large collection of Torres Strait Islander objects and photographs back to London in 1889. Most of these, including this charm, he gave to the British Museum, forming the largest holding of Torres Strait material in any museum at the time.
Torres Strait Islander artist Brian Robinson has re-imagined Haddon's collecting project. The full title of Robinson's work, presented in the style of a diary entry from Haddon's 1898 Cambridge University Anthropological Expedition, is:
August 23, 1898 – Today I collected with much zeal, through the barter and exchange of gifts, ancient artefacts belonging to a race of Indigenous Australians known as Torres Strait Islanders. Wooden masks, pearl shell pendants, smoking pipes, dance objects, and a strange device called a USB flash drive, were among the items obtained.
Extract from AC Haddon’s journal, 1888–89:
I am taking 79lbs of trade tobacco & a supply of tomahawks & a large knives for barter during next weeks’ cruise. I am anxious to get a supply of implements & ‘curios’ generally.