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Curious Collections: Identifying a Rare Bird

Curious Collections: Identifying a Rare Bird

From the Collections posts

Ornithologists generally discover new species by collecting them in the wild. But early in the 20th century, Museum ornithologist James P. Chapin found one on a hat.

In 1913, Chapin, while serving as an assistant to German taxidermist and photographer Herbert Lang on what would become known as the Lang-Chapin Expedition to the Belgian Congo, came upon a native of the Ituri forest wearing a headdress with a distinctive feather. To the young naturalist, it suggested a pheasant or peacock, a strange possibility since these birds were native to Asia. Curious, he took it.

Tags: Birds

Cycle of Life

Cycle of Life

From the Collections posts

Curator Laurel Kendall was visiting Vietnam to collect artifacts for the 2003 exhibition Vietnam: Journeys of Body, Mind, and Spirit when she encountered an exceptional artisan near Hanoi. His medium was paper, and his specialty was creating votive offerings used in funeral rituals by the Kinh people, Vietnam’s majority population.

The Kinh, in common with some other East Asian peoples, believe that a deceased leaves the underworld 49 days after death to begin a new life. Family members burn paper objects—representing  clothing, housewares, and other necessities—to equip their loved ones for the transition to the afterlife.

Tags: Anthropology, From the Collections

A Lumholtz Legacy: Tarahumara Mask

A Lumholtz Legacy: Tarahumara Mask

From the Collections posts

For the first expedition organized by the Museum’s Division of Anthropology, to the Sierra Madre range in Mexico in 1890, the Museum recruited a researcher with a truly global resume.

Born near Lillehammer, Norway, Carl Sophus Lumholtz was an ethnologist and naturalist with an intense interest in people and their environments. A pioneer of the participant-observation technique, he had come to the Museum’s attention for his work in Australia, where he spent four years learning the customs of the indigenous Australians while collecting botanical and zoological specimens.

Tags: Anthropology

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