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Ornamental band uspúka

Ornamental band uspúka

Place: Tierra del Fuego
Category: Jewellery & adornment

snail shells, Tierra del Fuego, l. 38 cm, Inv. Am 14

Humphrey No. 72: ‘another [necklace] made of beautiful small Trochi Shells, uncoated to show their pearl, and ingeniously plaited together, from Terra del Fuego.’

Small, white, iridescent snail shells (Photimula violacea), the uppermost chalk layer of which has been removed, are threaded by perforations on to a three-ply, plaited sinew cord. This cord is in turn affixed to another such cord by the spiralled wrapping with a strip of bark (?). The ornamental band exhibits traces of red pigment, while some of the snail shells have been lost.

Cook commented on his first voyage that only a few of the Haus men and women were seen without a necklace of snail shells or bone (Beaglehole 1968, I: 45). Banks mentioned chains made of snail shells which were worn by the Ona men and women. The men wore these ornaments as armbands only, while the women wore them both on the arms and the legs (Beaglehole 1962, I: 227). On the second voyage, G. Forster (1966, II: 381) mentioned a leather band embellished with shells as a neck ornament worn by the Yaghan women of Christmas Bay. Such ornaments were often illustrated as artifacts of the first voyage (Joppien/Smith 1985-88, I: 39, PI. 39; 89, 92, 1.14, 1.18; Force and Force 1968: 152). Apart from the Göttingen piece, the only other preserved example is in Cambridge. A specimen in the Pin Rivers Museum (Oxford), collected by J.R. Forster on the second voyage, is believed to be lost (Kaeppler 1978a: 277).

Ornaments of this type were still being collected from the Yaghan and Alakaluf in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries (cf. Hyades and Deniker 1891: 349, PI. 34, Fig. 4; Zeller 1909: Tab. Ill, Fig. 8; Koppers 1924: 21, Fig. 3; Gusinde 1931-75, II: 435-37, Fig. 23-24). Guisinde attributed their fabrication to the Yaghan, the Ona and Alakaluf having received the objects from them through exchange (Gusinde 1931- 75, III/1:209; cp. Cooper 1917: 184). Among the Yaghan, necklaces made of snail shells were made by the women and girls (Gusinde 1931-75, II: 436f.). Christian F. Feest


Beaglehole, John Cawte, Beaglehole, John Cawte, The Endeavour Journal of Joseph Banks, 1768-1771, 2 vols, Sydney, 1955-1962.

Cooper, John M, Analytical and Critical Bibliography of the Tribes of Tierra del Fuego and Adjacent Territory, Bulletin 63, Bureau of American Ethnology, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC, 1917.

Force, Roland and Force, Maryanne, Art and Artifacts of the Eighteenth Century, Honolulu, 1968.

Forster, Georg, Reise um die Welt, 2 Teile, George Forsters Werke (2 und 3) Samtliche Schriften, Tagebücher, Briefe, hrsg. von der Akademie der Wissenschaften der DDR, Berlin 1966.

Gusinde, Martin, Die Feuerland-Indianer, 1: Die Selk’nam. 2: Die Yamana. 3/1: Die Halakwulup. 3/2: Anthropologie der Feuerland-Indianer, Mödling bei Wien, 1931-1975.

Hyades, P and Deniker, J, Mission Scientifique du Cap Horn, 1882-1883, vol. VII: Anthropologie. Ethnologie, Paris, 1891.

Joppien, Rudiger and Smith, Bernard, The Art of Captain Cook’s Voyages, 3 vols in 4 parts, New Haven and London, 1985-1988.

Kaeppler, Adrienne L, ‘Artificial Curiosities’ Being An Exposition of Native Manufactures Collected on the Three Pacific Voyages of Captain James Cook RN [Exhibition catalogue], Bishop Museum Press, Honolulu, 1978a.

Koppers, Wilhelm, Unter Feuerland-Indianern, Stuttgart, 1924.

Zeller, Rudolf, ‘Beiträge zur Ethnographie der Feuerländer’, in Jahresberichte des Historischen Museums in Bern, 1909, pp. 75-91.

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