Ceremonial ‘portrait’ mask from Nootka Sound, Canada, brought to the Cape in 1780 by Captain Cook’s associates. From the Iziko Social History collections.
A 19th-century gourd snuff-box, engraved by a Zulu craftsman with a scene of Cape Town showing various public buildings, a carriage, wagons and a military parade. From the Iziko Social History collections.
Photograph from the Bleek/Lloyd Collection showing a |Xam woman with a weighted digging-stick, taken at Salt River in Cape Town, 1884. From the Iziko Social History collections.
Mpondo garden baskets of twined sedge, with other wedding presents, Libode, Eastern Cape, 1984. Photograph: Patricia Davison. From the Iziko Social History collections.
Boys milking cattle, Lukuni, Eastern Cape, 1985. Photograph: Patricia Davison. From the Iziko Social History collections.
This collection comprises mostly indigenous African artefacts, with a special emphasis on southern Africa. Objects from all over the world have also been collected for comparative purposes, such as Inuit artefacts to provide an example of hunter-gatherer material culture in environmental conditions very different from those in Africa. For southern Africa, the collection reflects a long tradition of research and collecting work conducted by Museum staff and their associates on the material expression of culture among 19th- and 20th-century hunter-gatherers, pastoralists, and agriculturalists. Salvage studies have also been undertaken on indigenous technologies, such as pottery, basketry, skin work and beadwork in southern Africa.
The development of the Anthropology Collection traces the history of anthropological enquiry as well as changes in museological practice. Since the opening of the accession register in the 1870s, successive additions to the collection have built up an important record of ways of life that have now vanished, while processes of cultural change in the population of southern Africa have also been documented through this material record and in photographs. Significant figures in southern African history have made contributions of both ethnographic and historical value. Notable are the objects from Oceania and the north-west coast of North America that were reputedly brought to the Cape by Captain Cook and his associates in the late eighteenth century, and a Tswana bone ornament collection collected in 1836 by Dr Andrew Smith, the founder of the South African Museum, on a journey of exploration in the interior of South Africa. The collections of early anthropologists in South Africa, such as D. Bleek, A.W. Hoernlé, I. Schapera and E.J. Krige, provide a material record that complements their published work as part of the history of the discipline of anthropology.
The photographic holdings include photographs and transparencies from field expeditions by staff members, photographs from donors, and a photographic record of specimens in the Collection. As with the rest of the Collection, the photographic record reflects changing research interests in anthropology and has been enriched by contributions from historically significant figures.
Telephone: +27 (0) 21 481 3838