Nuku Hiva 1825: ethnohistory of a Dutch-Marquesan encounter and an art-historical study of Marquesan material culture

Van Santen, Caroline (2021) Nuku Hiva 1825: ethnohistory of a Dutch-Marquesan encounter and an art-historical study of Marquesan material culture. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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This study explores the Dutch navy visit to the Marquesan island of Nuku Hiva (Polynesia) in May 1825. It consists of two interconnected parts: an ethnohistorical analysis and a material culture study. The first part examines the Dutch-Marquesan encounter. From written accounts and pictorial material, a narrative of the visit is presented. Encounters between Dutch and Marquesans are analysed and Marquesan agency is extrapolated. Topics explored are communication, diplomacy, boundaries and exchange, which are perceived as coping strategies from both sides for dealing with strangers effectively. Findings are placed in the context of existing studies on Marquesan ethnohistory and compared to other contemporary visits.

The second part of this thesis is concerned with Marquesan material culture, highlighting those objects associated with the Dutch voyage. A chronology of collectors and collecting of Marquesan objects between 1774 and the 1930s is followed by a comparative analysis of object types acquired during specific Pacific voyages and by European residents (1774-1840s). Two case studies are presented, both starting with Dutch observations and the objects they collected. The first examines stilt walking historically and the associated equipment, stilts and stilt steps. The second explores historical observations on ear adornment, followed by a comprehensive review of ear ornaments, in particular pūtaiana and haakai, to refine existing classifications.

This dissertation contributes in several ways to the existing knowledge of the Marquesas Islands. Ethnohistorically, the written records and images examined provide a new window on a particular foreign visit in the first half of the nineteenth century which, juxtaposed with other visits, adds nuanced insights on historical processes and Marquesan responses. Combined with the material collected, this research also contributes significantly to the understanding of developments in Marquesan art history, in particular with regard to identifying different styles and the ingenuity of Marquesan makers.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of Art, Media and American Studies
Depositing User: Chris White
Date Deposited: 06 Jul 2022 13:22
Last Modified: 06 Jul 2022 13:22


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