Thursday, 18 October 2012

Woefull Content in Australian Museums. Aboriginal Bark Sheath.

I have not posted this image as an example of Australian Aboriginal craft, I have posted it because it shows the woefull quality of images supplied by Australian museums. This is the ONLY bark knife sheath I have been able to find, and the image is not good enough for me to be sure what it actually is.

Some museums in Australia have no contact address so you can't ask any questions. Some supply an email address that can't be copied, so again, no contact. For those that do have a contact address the staff either don't reply, or when they do they are unable to help with any information.
Information on one museum site stated that Australian Aboriginal knife sheaths were made out of feathers. Now come on, please. I just find this hard to understand, I can't see how such a sheath can be functional.

This I THINK is supposed to be another type of knife sheath. There is no specific information on this object and I can't see what it is made of aside from having feathers attached to it in some manner.
If there are any Australian Museum staff reading this blog, this is a WAKE UP CALL!!!  If you are under staffed, get more. If you are under-funded, fight for it. I cannot publish information that is not there to be found. I cannot recommend a museum that has nothing to offer. Objects in a collection are totally useless without information on that object.
There is a museum here in Armidale, in the collection on display is an object labelled "The Bushman's Friend" When I asked about this oject I was told it was a multi-tool with a corkscrew and an awl. Would you like to know what it really is? It is a muzzle-loading musket tool and the so called corkscrew is in fact a worm used for cleaning the barrel. The curator did not believe me, so I came back with images of originals. That object to the best of my knowledge is still labelled "The Bushman's Friend"!
Here is a similar combination gun tool. Top is a turnscrew, centre is a vent pricker, NOT an awl! Bottom shows an inverted worm (NOT a corkscrew!) which can be unscrewed and screwed onto a cleaning rod or ramrod.


Gorges Smythe said...

I found scads of misinformation at our local museum. Farm boys with an interest in history would catch most of them, but unknowing city-slickers wouldn't know any better than to believe the false information. Living history sites with volunteer staffs are no better. I've seen cherry-pitters passed off as meat grinders and broad-axes passed off as tomahawks used for protection against the Indians (30 years after the Indians were gone from that area).

Le Loup said...

There are a lot of museums like that, Colonial Williamsburg among them! Shamefull.

A traveller in time said...

How damned depressing.

A traveller in time said...

How very depressing.

macbeth51 said...

Looks like a Enfield #1 Sergeant's tool from about 1855

murphyfish said...

Tis a damn shame when institutions supposedly there for the preservation and education of the past are unable to or are not arsed to fulfill their remit.

Dave Reid said...

'bushman's friend' might be all right for unknowing tourists when they didn't know what it was Keith but once informed, to keep calling it by its wrong handle, is just plain historical negligence. I also would have thought a black powder tool is far more interesting than a corkscrew. I also can't believe the quality of the photos from the ANM. Very unprofessional for what is supposed to be a world class museum. Not everyone can just toddle off to Canberra for a look.

Le Loup said...

I recieved an email from the museum asking me for the museum link I found this info on. I gave it to them & have not heard from them since!!! I was hoping for more info & some better images.