Arts and Culture
The proposed presentation is focused on a cultural and historical riddle posed by an ethnographic collection that came to the Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography in 1914, but was finally registered in 1979, and concomitant archival documents. The collection containing ca. 400 items was gathered by German naturalist and photographer Albert Grubauer during his expedition to the British North Borneo (now Sabah, Malaysia) in 1911. The largest part came to St Petersburg Kunstkamera, while smaller parts are now scattered in several ethnological museums of Germany, including Museum Fünf Kontinente, Munchen. A long and complicated history of its registration in the Kunstkamera left traces in the archive of draft inventories and notes made by different employees of the Museum in different times. I am going to talk about the 2 items that were finally registered in 1979 as "an item of unknown purpose" and "a tool" (apparently, also of purpose unknown). The notes left by researchers who have studied the collection in the 1930s and the original inventory made by Grubauer himself reveal that these are actually tools for genital piercing and allow making assumptions as to their place and culture of origin. Who are the "Dayaks" indicated by the gatherer in his inventory? Is it possible that it were actually Dusuns who possessed the tools and, therefore practiced genital piercing? These are the riddles I would like to discuss.