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Catalog Data

Collector:
Maj. William J. Thomson  Search this
Donor Name:
Maj. William J. Thomson  Search this
Expedition:
Mohican Survey of Easter Island  Search this
Vessel:
U.S.S. Mohican  Search this
Length - Object:
62.9 cm
Culture:
Rapa Nui (Easter Islander)  Search this
Object Type:
Tablet
Place:
Easter Island (Rapa Nui), Chile, Polynesia
Accession Date:
19 Apr 1890
Collection Date:
18 Dec 1886 to 31 Dec 1886
Notes:
INSCRIBED WOODEN TABLET OBTAINED BY W. J. THOMSON, PAYMASTER OF THE U.S. NAVY SHIP 'MOHICAN' IN EASTER ISLAND, DECEMBER 1886. TABLET WAS PURCHASED FROM MR. A. A. SALMON [a.k.a. Tati Salmon], A EUROPEAN SETTLER AND LONG-TIME RESIDENT OF EASTER ISLAND. THOMSON STATES TABLET "IS A PIECE OF DRIFTWOOD THAT FROM ITS PECULIAR SHAPE IS SUPPOSED TO HAVE BEEN USED AS A PORTION OF A CANOE" (USNM ANNUAL REPORT 1889:514) TRANSFERRED FROM ETHNOLOGY TO ARCHEOLOGY ON MAY 2, 1933. FORMERLY ON EXHIBIT NMNH HALL 8, UNIT 4. THREE PLASTER CASTS [A129774-1] MADE OF BOTH REVERSE AND OBVERSE SIDES.
This rongorongo tablet or board is illus. Fig. 49, p. 76, in "Splendid Isolation: Art of Easter Island" by Eric Kjellgren, Metropolitan Museum of Art/Yale University Press, 2001, and identified there as an inscribed tablet (kohau rongorongo). It is known as the Great or Large Washington tablet.
From card for 129773-4: "Engraved with shark's tooth. Transferred to Div. Archeology May 2, 1933." From second card formerly in Ethnology card file: "See USNM - AR 1889 Plate 40-41 [after p. 524]. Translation on p. 523; note on p. 537. Description of acquisition on p. 514. Cast made and sent to Musee d' Ethnographic, May, 1933."
For an article on this tablet, with illustrations, see: Horley, Paul, 2013, "The large rongorongo tablet from the collections of the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C." Rapa Nui Journal, 27(1): 37-61. See also Kaeppler, Adrienne. 2001. "A Photograph is Worth A Thousand Words" in Proceedings of the Fifth International Conference on Easter Island and the Pacific. Christopher M. Stevenson, et. al, eds.
Record Last Modified:
11 Aug 2020
Specimen Count:
1
Topic:
Archaeology  Search this
Accession Number:
023098
USNM Number:
A129774-0
See more items in:
Anthropology
Data Source:
NMNH - Anthropology Dept.
GUID:
http://n2t.net/ark:/65665/32f3b1164-f957-4618-ae87-f581a37f6ecc
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:nmnhanthropology_8010185