by Barry Craig. Continued from OAS OAS Journal Vol.22 No.3.
In this issue of the OAS Journal, I provide more details of Harry’s service with the AN&MEF and a sample of his collection in the South Australian Museum (continuing on from previous edition).
Harry Lort Spencer
Three malangan figures came from Harry (Fig. 3). One is male and the other two, shown standing in the mouth of a large fish, are female. All three have small black snakes carved on their sides. The snake is one of the manifestations of rulrul, the clan spirits, which are benign for clan members but can be a danger to others (Küchler 1983:81). The projections from the top of the head and near the ears most likely represent feather ornaments and the two female figures are shown with a crest on the head like that of tatanua masks.
Parkinson (1999:279) suggests the hairstyle of the tatanua mask was “. . . an imitation of the mourning hairstyle customary in former times . . . produced by the relatives of the dead letting their hair grow and be stained yellow by rubbing in burnt lime and dyestuffs. At the time of the funeral rites the sides of the head were shaved; only the central section from the forehead to the neck was allowed to remain. This was first fashioned into a central crest with two low shelves of hair one on either side of the crest, and then carefully pinned up and dyed yellow. The shaven sides of the head were then smeared with a thick paste of lime and more decoration added. . .”
Normally, it was the men who affected this hair style and usually only men wore the kapkap turtle-shell inlay on clam shell disc, but one small kapkap is depicted on the chest of the female figure A7757.
The male figure and one of the female figures hold a flying fish at the front; Mike Gunn was informed that the flying fish is a metaphor for the speech of the maimai (clan leader). However, the large fish depicted at the bottom of the two female figures is referred to as the ‘big-mouth’ and is a metaphor for death (Gunn in Gunn & Peltier 2006:200).
Harry Ogilvy collected the two Sulka shields (ngaile – Fig. 4), currently exhibited in the Pacific Gallery, during a patrol to the south coast of East New Britain. A photograph was taken during this patrol that shows five shields with seven susu masks standing behind them (Fig. 5). None of these are in the South Australian Museum but the shield on the right is, so far as I’m aware, still in the possession of the Ogilvy family.Parkinson (1999:101) reported that the designs on these shields, although they resemble human faces, were not interpreted as such by the Sulka, ‘to the extent of laughing in one’s face when such a meaning is implied’. On the other hand, George Corbin elicited the response that they did resemble faces and ‘were called nunu, (meaning reflection or face) and were said to be protective in nature’ (1990:79). The stylised bird figures either side of the central boss on some shields, such as the SA Museum examples, were interpreted as salmunu, birds whose calls warned warriors of the approach of the enemy.
Three of the four Mengen shields on display in the Pacific Cultures Gallery come from Harry Ogilvy (Fig. 6). Again, the designs suggest pairs of eyes which undoubtedly were meant to have a threatening effect rather than to represent a human face. The rear of these shields, as is the case with Sulka shields, are also painted with designs, though not as elaborate as the designs on the front. Sulka and Mengen shields are made for use with, and protection from, spears.
This is a work in progress so I’ll finish up by drawing attention to two headrests (Fig. 7). Ogilvy Nr 35 is listed as a ‘pillow, coastal district, Markham River’ and registered A7764. Ogilvy Nr 28 is listed as a ‘pillow, S. Coast New Britain’ and registered A8804.
However, there is a problem with these locations. While it is possible that A7764 could be from the coastal area of the Markham River, having been traded there from Tamigudu or some other Huon Gulf village. Neuhauss illustrates a Lae-Womba (Markham Valley) neck-rest similar to A8804 that, although more slender, has three legs and a quite small bowl-like top for the neck (1911, I, Fig.157c). There is a slender possibility that a Huon Gulf headrest could have been traded to the south coast of New Britain via the Siassi Islands and there could have been a mix-up of the documentation of these two ‘pillows’.
Bodrogi, T. 1961. Art in North-East New Guinea. Budapest: Hungarian Academy of Sciences.
Corbin, G. 1990. Salvage Art History among the Sulka of Wide Bay, East New Britain, Papua New Guinea. In A. Hanson and L. Hanson (eds), Art and Identity in Oceania. Bathurst: Crawford House Press. Pp. 67-83.
Craig, B. 1995. Following the tracks of Edgar Waite in New Guinea for the Pacific Arts Symposium in Adelaide. Records of the South Australian Museum. 28,1: 33-52.
Craig, B. 2011. Edgar Waite’s northwest Pacific expedition of 1918 – the hidden collections. In, S. Cochrane and M. Quanchi (eds) Hunting the Collectors: Pacific Collections in Australian Museums, Art Galleries and Archives. 2nd edition. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing. Pp. 167-190.
Gash, N. and J. Whittaker. 1975. A Pictorial History of New Guinea. Brisbane: Jacaranda Press.
Gunn, M. and P. Peltier 2006. New Ireland. Art of the South Pacific. Milan: 5 Continents.
Küchler, S. 1983. The Malanggan of Nombowai. Oral History 11, 2:65-98.
Issac, C. and B. Craig. 1999. Sulka masked ceremonies and exchange. In B. Craig, B. Kernot and C. Anderson (eds), Art and Performance in Oceania. Bathurst: Crawford House Publishing. Pp.140-144.
Neuhaus, R. 1911. Deutsch-Neu-Guinea. Band 1. Berlin: Dietrich Reimer.
Parkinson, R. 1999. Thirty years in the South Seas. (English translation by J. Dennison) Bathurst: Crawford House Publishing in association with Oceania Publications, University of Sydney.
 I am indebted to Jim Ridges for providing me with the translation of Boettcher’s manuscript 18 June 2010.  I have not been able to confirm that Harry served in India or Fiji but he was sent to the New Hebrides (Vanuatu) for three months in 1917 and ‘successfully conducted the military operations on a punitive expedition’ (Murray Pioneer 22 October 1920, p.5).  This donation was reported in the Murray Pioneer (10 August 1917, p.5  For accounts of Waite’s 1918 expedition, see Craig 1995, 2011.  The quality of the carving and painting is of insufficient quality positively to support a Tami origin (cf. Bodrogi 1961, Fig.75 from ‘Huon Gulf’).