Oceania at the Tropenmuseum

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EXPEDI T IONS: COLLECT I NG AND PHOTOGRAPHI NG david van duuren and steven vink

37 Canoe prow ornament depicting a human face This object was collected during the South-west New Guinea Expedition of 1904-1905. Wood 170 x 62 cm Kamoro (culture), South-west Papua, Indonesia Late 19th – early 20th century A-524. Gift: Artis, 1920

Few visitors realise that many objects in the display cases of ethnographic museums were collected in the field through blood, sweat and tears. This is particularly true for the objects that originate from the deep interior of the enormous forested islands in the former eastern overseas possessions of the Netherlands that, at the beginning of the 20th century, were still entirely terra incognita. New Guinea is just such an island. At the end of the 19th century, a number of its coastlines had been explored and were known but the ‘untouched heart’ of the island formed the biggest challenge for scientific researchers. They could not rest until the blank areas on the map had been coloured in, the local soil composition and the river courses had been researched, the landscape had been recorded on film and – often the most exciting prospect – contact had been made with the, up to then, unknown population groups. They had only one means at their disposal to realise these ambitions – to launch large, wellprepared and strongly manned expeditions. More than a century ago, these expeditions got off the ground. All of them were long, exhaustive and often dangerous scientific exploratory expeditions. These journeys were prepared and financed by scientific agencies and institutions, such as the Royal Dutch Geographical Society (KNAG), the Amsterdam

Society for the Promotion of the Natural Sciences in the Dutch Colonies (Maatschappij ter Bevordering van het Natuurkundig Onderzoek der Nederlandsche Koloniën) and the East Indies Committee for Scientific Research (Indisch Comité voor Wetenschappelijke Onderzoekingen or ‘Indisch Comité’) in Batavia (now Jakarta). Almost simultaneously, the so-called military exploration of Dutch New Guinea began. After the colonial wars and a number of smaller scale skirmishes in the East Indies, a large number of soldiers in the Royal Netherlands Indies Army (Koninklijk Nederlands-Indisch Leger, KNIL) sat in their camps after the turn of the century twiddling their thumbs. The soldiers were now deployed to tackle the difficult job of opening up the most eastern part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. New Guinea is therefore a textbook example of an island that was almost completely mapped through the efforts of exploration detachments, exploratory expeditions and scientific expeditions. The only way that they could explore this wild back garden of the Netherlands East Indies was to find the mouth of a wide, navigable river and then forge upstream from there. As a result, the expeditions in New Guinea during the first quarter of the 20th century took 47

38 Map of Dutch New Guinea

virtually the same route. The complete expedition team – consisting of a handful of researchers, a contingent of Indonesian soldiers, Dayak woodsmen from Borneo and convicted prison labourers that had to carry the equipment – departed with one or two naval ships from Java or the Moluccas bound for the mouth of a predetermined river on the north or south coast. On reaching it, they steamed up river to the farthest navigable point. Here the first bivouac was set up and then left behind with a patrol of soldiers. The transport ship returned to the home base and the expedition members forged further upstream in proas that had been hollowed out inside by the Dayak. The swirling jungle river became much narrower as they progressed. They forged ahead until a point when navigating the water became impossible. From the last river bivouac, the men continued on foot. This entailed many slow, tiring ‘day marches’ through heavily wooded and hilly terrain. A large part of the route had to be clambered up and descended. Diseases, especially malaria, 48


and exhaustion, exacted a toll and the sick men sometimes had to be carried back and then rowed back to the base bivouac. The earliest scientific expeditions also often experienced deaths along the way, primarily among the equipment carriers, who served as the pack mules of the company. But the exultation was great when the goal of the expedition was finally reached after enduring these hardships – goals such as trudging through snow on the mountain ridges or the discovery of an unknown, isolated group of Mountain Papuans. The enthusiastically written expedition reports, which were full of human effort and many discoveries, for years filled the pages of Dutch professional journals, especially the Tijdschrift van het Koninklijk Nederlands Aardrijkskundig Genootschap (Magazine of the Royal Dutch Geographical Association). The military exploration expeditions of the KNIL had an objective – to put New Guinea on the map! – that was simpler than the goal set for scientific expeditions that entered the interior under the

39 Expedition member B. Branderhorst with the collection of ethnographical objects Military Exploration of Dutch New-Guinea 1907-1915. Photographer: O.G. Heldring Gelatin silver print 8.1 x 10.7 cm 1907-1910 60015371. Gift: 1908/1910

auspices of research institutes. Thus the Society for the Promotion of Natural Sciences in the Dutch Colonies was not only interested altruistically in new knowledge about everything, it also investigated the possibility of whether this new knowledge could be used for the benefit of local economic development or the exploitation of minerals discovered. That is to say: they put the benefit of the colonial motherland first! It is therefore not surprising that a geologist was always a member of the scientific team. In hindsight, the majority of the expeditions in this regard had little practical or financial benefit for the Netherlands. They were and remain primarily journeys of discovery that speak to the imagination and from which the researchers returned home with exciting stories, hand-drawn maps, biological specimens, minerals, soil and river-water samples, intriguing photographs and, of course, many ethnographic objects that were received from the newly discovered Papuan groups in exchange for steel axe blades, knives, pieces of cotton, mirrors, beads, tobacco and cowrie shells (at the time a highly valued means of payment used by the natives in the mountains). The objects collected were placed with museums in the Netherlands and the Netherlands East Indies soon after the end of the expeditions, which lasted into the 1950s. Up to the present day, they are a part of the collections of the Tropenmuseum in Amsterdam, the Museum Volkenkunde (the former Museum of Ethnography) in Leiden, the Wereld-

museum, at that time the Geographic and Ethnographic Museum (Museum voor Land – en Volkenkunde) in Rotterdam and in Indonesia the National Museum in Jakarta, at the time called the Museum of the Batavian Society of Arts and Sciences (Museum van het Bataviaasch Genootschap van Kunsten en Wetenschappen). They were registered as remarkable objects that came from primitive cultures and were documented according to the way in which they were made, the materials used and their specific function and significance. They became timeless museum objects originating from the ‘Stone Age’ which, according to the prevailing view at that time, said something about early world cultural developments and the stages of civilization. Only in recent years have these old collections of objects been placed within a broader perspective and made a part of a more encompassing and multifaceted historical science exposition in which the ‘biography of the object’ is the point of focus. This biography adds a collection history to the formal characteristics of the object, the tangible ‘thing in itself’ – revealing the motives and objectives of the collectors, the scientific frameworks that were adhered to then and later, and the changing significance that the objects were given in their museum environment. The members of the expeditions collected everything they could take with them. What could not be taken was either sketched or photographed. We will limit ourselves here to the population groups discovered by the expeditions. Not only the objects they made, but also their skeletal remains were taken back to the Netherlands when possible. Physical anthropology, the study of humans as a member of the animal kingdom, was an inextricable part of anthropology in those days, seen as the all-encompassing science of humankind. Physical anthropologists of that time studied the hereditary physical features of ‘natural’ population groups in order – through the comparison of similarities and differences – to come to a profile and classification of races, sub-races and their origin and distribution over the earth. This distribution of human types was often linked to the distribution of cultures, through which scientists sometimes thought they could show a connection between racial features and cultural developments. It was thought that a complete inventory of the human race in all its diversity and its equally varied ways



40 The detachment personnel of the first expedition of the Military Exploration of Dutch New Guinea on the south coast in 1907/08 at Merauke, from left to right: Noerdin, B. Branderhorst, medical officer and physician, I.M. Dumas, wildlife researcher, G.M.A. Elbers, 1st Mate in the Colonial Government’s Navy, O.G. Heldring, geologist and mining engineer, A.J. Gooszen, Captain and Commander, J.H. Daam, Captain, R.L.A. Hellwig, Assistant Resident of Merauke, Mantri’s Pringo and Dassan. Military Exploration of Dutch New Guinea, 1907-1915. Photographer: unknown Gelatin silver print 11.5 x 16.3 cm 1907-1908 60015117. Gift: 1915


of life could explain the evolution and distribution of races and cultures. Each missing piece of the puzzle was welcome. A physical anthropologist also invariably took part in the expeditions in New Guinea and was generally the physician for the whole team who was also educated in anthropology. His duties consisted of measuring and/or photographing the Papuans in order to ascertain their anatomical and physiological features, which could then be compared to those of other human groups. This explains the great excitement that the exploration of New Guinea elicited. Almost everything that the researcher encountered on the island was new and unknown and could possibly open up entirely new scientific perspectives. So when in 1910 a British ornithological expedition, which of course was in Dutch New Guinea to look for birds, stumbled upon the Tapiro, a dwarf people with an average height of approximately 1.50 metres, it caused quite a commotion in the world of anthropology. Pygmies on the southern slopes of the Central Mountain Range! The discovery of this dwarf population in New Guinea was sensational world news. For anthropologists, the discovery provided evidence for the existence and spread of OCEANIA

an ancient ‘pygmy race’ that could now be found in Central Africa, South-East Asia and New Guinea. For a long time, the Tapiro were seen as the prototypes of the ‘New Guinea pygmy’; the photos taken of them were reproduced many times over in scientific essays and in books and magazines that had a wide public readership. In 1935-1936, the physical anthropologist H.J.T. Bijlmer made a special expedition to the territory of the Tapiro in order to record their physical features and simple culture better than the British ornithologists had done during their fleeting contacts some 25 years earlier.1 In the period between the British expedition and that of Dr. Bijlmer, as well as afterwards, scientific expeditions and individual anthropological researchers became increasingly familiar with the mountain inhabitants of short stature whose physical measurements, photographs, hair samples and sometimes skeletal remains made the same journey as those of other Papuans. They were sent directly from ‘the field’ to Dutch universities and anatomical or ethnological museums, together with numerous collected artefacts. The fact that the cultural objects were acquired through the practice of bartering is described in the reports of the expeditions, sometimes down to the smallest detail. Photographs were taken at the time of Asmat Papuans from South-western New Guinea holding chopped off heads up in the air as possible bartering objects as soon as they noticed the particular interest that the members of the expedition took in them. Yet ancestral skulls from men’s houses and human remains from old burial grounds were also taken back to the Netherlands. Seldom is anything written about the actual transactions that took place at the time between the interested parties. In addition to a sizable collection of historical objects and photographs, the Tropenmuseum also has a much smaller collection of human remains from New Guinea. The collected skeleton parts, together with the human remains from other parts of the world, served as the study material for the Department of Physical Anthropology which, after having operated for a half century, was closed in the 1960s. The department was closed down because the museum board reasoned that measuring and classifying human skeletal remains in order to determine racial features no longer had a place in a

41 A soldier in the middle of a group of Papuans, South New Guinea Military Exploration of Dutch New Guinea, 1907-1915. Photographer: unknown Gelatin silver print 11.6 x 16.7 cm 1907-1908 60015508. Gift: 1908/1910

rapidly modernizing museum that was increasingly focused on current events and cultural changes in the ‘Third World’. The entire collection of unornamented, non-culturally used human remains is now ready to be disposed of in accordance with current internationally accepted museum guidelines.2 This collection will not be discussed further in this book. The museum has made an exception in the case of human remains that were ornamented in the source cultures and had a practical use or ritual function, such as daggers made from human bone, decorated ancestral skulls and the trophies of headhunters, which can be considered as artefacts. They will not be disposed of and will continue to be a part of the Tropenmuseum’s collection of objects.

In the first half of the 20th century, many large and small expeditions entered the bush, including untold numbers of short explorative expeditions and patrols over land and water about which little was written, unless they appeared in reports of the government or army. In general they did not have the character of an explorative expedition. Hereafter only the ‘classic’ and well-documented expeditions will be discussed which were important for the formation of the Tropenmuseum’s collection. They are discussed in chronological order. We will begin with the eightyear exploration of the island by the East Indies army because it stands alone and should be considered separate from the scientific expeditions.



42 Group portrait of five Marind-anim men, South New Guinea Military Exploration of Dutch New Guinea, 1907-1915. Photographer: unknown Gelatin silver print 16.7 x 11.9 cm 1907-1909 60015518. Gift: 1908/1910


Military exploration of New Guinea (1907-1915) The Military exploration of New Guinea (1907-1915) was launched on the advice of Hendrik Colijn, military advisor to the government in Batavia. He had made a reconnaissance trip to New Guinea with the intention of having parts of the then still unknown interior of the island traversed and mapped with the help of military detachments. J.B. van Heutsz, Governor General of the Netherlands East Indies, reacted positively to Colijn’s proposal and developed a costly and protracted government project. In the end, three exploratory detachments OCEANIA

would be put together for the exploration of the south, the west and the north of the island. Each of these detachments was to exist for years in varying compositions. Together, their efforts would put 300,000 km2 of unknown land on the map. The first expedition was undertaken in 1907 by the southern detachment, which was focused on cartographic and astronomical measurements and ethnographic, botanical and geological research. The operating base was the southern coastal town of Merauke, from where an enormous western river and swampland area had to be covered. The day marches were hard. The temperatures fluctuated between 34 and 37°C. The continual, most pressing concern was finding fresh drinking water for the men and carriers. Various members of the original staff – exhausted or sick with malaria – had to be replaced. It would take six years, in the end, before the planned exploration of this part of New Guinea was completed. The northern detachment began its exploration in 1909 at Humboldt Bay, strategically located near the border of Dutch New Guinea with the German possession Kaiser-Wilhelms-Land lying to the east. The military bivouac was named ‘Hollandia’. In 1910, Hollandia would be proclaimed as the capital of Dutch New Guinea. The precise borderline between the two colonies still had to be finalized. The coast was explored down to the smallest details and expeditions were made to the interior. One of them was to the mouth of the Sepik River in the German colony. The men forged up the river for more than 800 kilometres until they found themselves upstream in the west where a large backward bend in the river was to form the border between the German and Dutch territories. In 1912 the northern detachment was transferred to the western part of the northern coast, with their base at Manokwari. An extensive exploration of Geelvink Bay was concluded in 1912. The western detachment did not come into action until 1910. The coasts and interior of the Vogelkop Peninsula and the peninsulas to the south of it were crossed many times and mapped. In 1913 the last exploration was launched into the catchment area of the Mamberamo, the largest river of Dutch New Guinea. For this expedition, the northern and southern detachments were combined

to form a crew of 400 men, half of whom were prison labourers. Upon its completion in 1915, all the ‘blank areas’ on the map of New Guinea had been coloured in by the exploration detachments.

43 Mounted ancestral skull. Collected by the northern detachment during their expedition on the Sepik River in what was then the German part of New Guinea Human skull, hair, lime, paint Sepik river area, Papua New Guinea Early 20th century 85-1.Gift: A. Franssen Herderschee, 1920

The military exploration of New Guinea was a success, despite the 140 men who had lost their lives during the many expeditions. Coastlines, river courses, landscapes and mountain areas were recorded on an impressive number of maps. Unknown Papuan groups were discovered and more than 8,500 ethnographic objects were collected and placed with Dutch ethnographic museums and the Museum of the Batavian Society for the Arts and Sciences in Batavia. Although Captain Gooszen, commander and expedition leader of the first detachment, published a series of articles in the Nieuwe Rotterdamsche Courant under the pseudonym ‘Pioneer’ between 1907 and 1914, the expeditions that were made in the context of the military exploration were not well known among the general public at the time. This seems to have been the result of the impersonal reporting done in specialized, mostly military journals. But it was also because later no smoothly written, anecdotal travel stories were committed to paper by one or more of the participants, as Hendrik Lorentz had done for two of the scientific expeditions

44 Idols, korwar, from Geelvink Bay Mamberamo expedition during the Military Exploration of Dutch New Guinea, 1907-1915. Photographer: unknown Glass negative 13 x 18 cm 1909-1910 10006136. Gift: 1915





< 45 Dance pinafore This dance pinafore was worn by the women over a cotton hip skirt. It was collected during the North New Guinea Expedition 1903. Plant fibres, glass beads, cotton 30 x 18 cm Geelvink Bay, Papua, Indonesia Late 19th century A-108a. Gift: Artis, 1920 Former collection H.A. Lorentz 46 Shield Shield used up to the end of the 19th century during headhunting trips, later for show fights. It was collected during the North New Guinea Expedition 1903. Wood, rattan, paint 171 x 39 cm Numfor, Geelvink Bay, Papua, Indonesia Late 19th century A-720. Gift: Artis, 1920 Former collection H.A. Lorentz 47 Standing figure Possible figure of an ancestor or spirit. Little is known about the significance of these figures. Many anthropomorphic figures from the Lake Sentani region formed the ends of house poles. Collected during the North New Guinea Expedition 1903. Wood, paint 56 x 10 cm Lake Sentani, Papua, Indonesia Late 19th century A-1940. Gift: Artis, 1920 Former collection H.A. Lorentz

in which he participated in approximately the same period, i.e. the North New Guinea Expedition and the Second South New Guinea Expedition. An official report of the expeditions was published in the Netherlands East Indies.3 The book Pioniers in de rimboe (‘Pioneers in the jungle’) by W.K.H. Feuilletau de Bruyn, a participant in the series of military explorative expeditions launched, was published more than thirty years after the event. It describes, true to life, the adventures of the southern detachment from 1909 to 1911. But Lieutenant Visser, the central figure, was a fictitious character, as were the other officers named in the book. According to the author, the participants that he presented possess the character traits of a number of officers that actually took part in the expedition at the time.

The North New Guinea Expedition (1903) The North New Guinea Expedition left the Moluccas for New Guinea in 1903 with the goal of exploring the still partially unknown north coast for scientific

purposes and to investigate whether there were exploitable layers of coal present in the coastal region. The expedition was dispatched by the Society for the Advancement of Research in the Natural Sciences in the Dutch Colonies. It was placed under the command of the German geologist Arthur Wichmann, a professor of geology at the National University of Utrecht after whom the expedition was named the ‘Wichmann-Expedition’. In addition to Wichmann, the Dutch scientific team consisted of the amateur biologist H.A Lorentz (who would later lead two other expeditions to New Guinea) and the physician and medical officer G.A.J van der Sande, who was responsible for the anthropological and EXPEDI TI O NS: CO LLECTI NG AN D PH O TO G RAPHI N G


gijsbertus adrian johan van der sande (1863–1910) Gijsbertus Adrian Johan van der Sande studied medicine in Amsterdam and then joined the navy in 1890, where he was appointed as a medical officer. After two years of service in the Netherlands, he left for the Netherlands East Indies, where his scientific interests were stimulated by the tropical flora and fauna that surrounded him. He collected animal specimens that were sent back either stuffed or preserved in formalin to the National Museum of Natural History in Leiden, which in 1895 garnered him a ‘silver medal for services rendered to the National collections of science and art’. In 1901, after having served for a long time as an army doctor during the war with Aceh, Van der Sande returned to the Netherlands to give his broad scientific interests a more professional grounding. He devoted himself to anthropo logy and photography. In Zürich he attended seminars on anthropometry – the measurement techniques of physical anthropology – given by Rudolf Martin, an internationally famous scholar at the time. This training was funded by the Society for the Promotion of Research in the Natural Sciences in the Dutch Colonies, which was asked by Van der Sande to allow him to participate in an expedition to North New Guinea that it was organizing. In 1903, he joined the expedition as a physician, physical anthropo-



logist and as the ethnological specialist of the team. He also took responsibility for taking photographs of the expedition. He performed all tasks for which he was hired excellently. In addition to a complete set of doctor’s equipment and a field pharmacy, he even had an operating table. He looked after the medical needs of the expedition members and also regularly gave medical assistance to the Papuans with which the expedition came into contact. Van der Sande collected ethnographic objects everywhere, observed the local cultural customs as closely as possible and measured the bodies of the coastal dwellers for comparative anatomical studies to be conducted later on. He recorded all of his findings several years later in a folio of nearly 400 pages, richly illustrated with photographs and coloured lithos. The ethnographic collections he had built up during the expedition continued to be placed with the National Museum of Ethnography in Leiden and the Museum of the Batavian Society in Batavia. A smaller part of it made its way into the ethnographic collection of Artis, which is now in the Tropenmuseum. Back with the navy, Van der Sande was again given the opportunity in 1907 to take part in a research expedition. This trip was focused on a large hydrographical project in the eastern part of the Netherlands East Indies: to map

the coasts of the islands of Sumba, Flores and Timor and to fathom the seabed around the Lesser Sunda Islands. With respect to collecting efforts, obtaining local zoological material was now the priority, while anthropology and ethnography took second place. This said, Van der Sande came back with some 200 ethnographic objects that were donated to the National Museum of Ethnology in Leiden. Unfortunately, the documentation this time was very deficient. Van der Sande clearly had other things to do during this project, which had taken two years to complete. In 1909 he decided to stop his scientific research and to work as a physician in Surabaya instead. His official departure from scientific endeavours was marked by an honorary doctorate from the National University of Utrecht. One year later, he died unexpectedly at the age of 47.

48 Papuas at the tent of expedition member G.A.J. van der Sande at Asé, Lake Sentani Wichmann expedition to Northern New Guinea 1903. Photographer: unknown 8 x 11 cm Gelatin silver print 1903 60010117. Gift: Prof. A. Wichmann, 1915

49 Interior of a karriwarri, a men’s house, in Tobadi, North New Guinea North New Guinea Expedition 1903. Photographer: unknown Glass negative 13 x 18 cm 1903 10002375. Gift: Prof. A. Wichmann, 1915

50 Wooden sago bin used during the kaware festival The kaware festival is celebrated to mark the renewal of all of material culture. Men make new axes, proas, images, etc. At the festival, the women perform a dance with the sago bin held in their hands. This bin has the shape of a ray. Collected during the South-west New Guinea Expedition of 1904-1905. Wood 96.5 cm Kamoro (culture), South-west Papua, Indonesia. Late 19th – early 20th century A-53. Gift: Artis, 1920

ethnographical research. J.W. van Nouhuys, the captain of the ship that took the expedition members to New Guinea, was not an official member of the research team but, as an amateur geologist, assisted Wichmann and participated in almost every activity. On the naval steamer Zeemeeuw, the entire north coast was explored, especially Geelvink Bay, as well as Humboldt Bay and Lake Sentani, which lie further to the east. After each collection trip, the deck of the expedition ship was transformed into an improvised laboratory full of stones, bottles and specimens in tubes containing alcohol. It was also used as a floor for the numerous ethnographic objects that, after being sorted, were carefully packed into crates. The men sometimes encountered unwillingness on the part of the local population during the research or the collection activities. There was a chance that this unwillingness would turn into a hostile attitude

towards them. Such was the case with respect to the men in the village of Seisara beside Lake Sentani, who were asked through an interpreter to give the names of the rivers, settlements and the mountain peaks in the area. It quickly became evident that the Papuans were not in the mood to cooperate: Based on the merriment that prevailed among them when they gave us the names, I suspect that their reliability was questionable and they were probably giving us humorous fictional names. When they finally began to tire of this game and their behaviour veered towards being intrusive, the lack of manners was made clear to them in terms that were perhaps too curt. As a result, they immediately hopped into their proas and left, gesticulating wildly and screaming loudly as they did so. We did not understand where they were headed at the time, but things soon became clear. In the lake



51 Cutting hair with a bamboo knife in the village of AsĂŠ (on the island AsĂŠ Pulau), located in the Lake Sentani region, North New Guinea North New Guinea Expedition 1903. Photographer: unknown Glass negative 9 x 12 cm 1903 10008204. Gift: Prof. A. Wichmann, 1915 52 Men twisting rope made from pandanus fibre in Tobadi, North New Guinea North New Guinea Expedition 1903. Photographer: unknown Glass negative 13 x 18 cm 1903 10008297. Gift: Prof. A. Wichmann, 1915



53 War shield Collected during the South-West New Guinea Expedition of 1904-1905. Wood, paint, fibre 150 x 25 cm Asmat (culture), South-west Papua, Indonesia Late 19th – early 20th century A-41. Gift: Artis, 1920 54 Ancestor board The board portrays a deceased ancestor. During a ritual that revolved around the death and renewal of life, its point was stuck into the ground in front of the festival house and ‘unveiled’ at a certain moment. It was collected during the South-west New Guinea Expedition of 1904-1905. Wood, paint 203 x 34 cm Kamoro (culture), South-west Papua, Indonesia. Late 19th – early 20th century A-527. Gift: Artis, 1920

there was a fairly large lump of stone, where they took up their position, screaming loudly, and aimed their bows and arrows in our direction. They apparently had understood all too clearly that Professor (Wichmann, DvD) would come to this location for geological research in order to investigate this type of stone. This series of events, in my view, reveals their ingenuity and insight. 4 The expedition along the north coast and northern coastal bays lasted more than six months and was well-documented. Almost every member of the expedition’s staff made a contribution to this: Lorentz with his smoothly written travel report Eenige maanden onder de Papoea’s (‘A few months among the Papuans’), from which the quote above was taken; Wichmann with a general natural science

report5; Van der Sande with a very thick, photo-laden and colour litho-illustrated study of the culture and physical characteristics of the Papuans6; and De Beaufort on the birds that were collected and preserved during the trip. On arriving back in the Netherlands, the objects collected were placed with Dutch museums and scientific institutions. In 1907, a special exhibition was organized in the National Museum of Ethnology in Leiden around the ethnographic collection that the expedition had acquired.7 Apparently inspired by his trip to New Guinea, Wichmann, wrote in his free time the most detailed exploration history for this island that has been written up to now: the two-volume Entdeckungsgeschichte von Neu-Guinea (‘The history of discovery of New Guinea’. 8



The South-west New Guinea Expedition (1904-1905)

55 Breast ornament This object was collected during the South-west New Guinea Expedition of 1904-1905. Bamboo, seeds, fibre 13 x 19.5 cm Kamoro (culture), South-west Papua, Indonesia Early 20th century A-96b. Gift: Artis, 1920 56 Dance club Large club with elongated, widened clubbing end that shows an abstract pattern of carvings and whimsical ridges. According to the travel report of the Southwest New Guinea Expedition, it portrays a suckling animal with large nipples. The head and the tail of ‘the animal’ are decorated with cassowary feathers. The object was collected during the South-west New Guinea Expedition of 1904-1905. Wood, feathers 185 cm Kamoro (culture), South-west Papua, Indonesia Late 19th – early 20th century A-363a. Gift: Artis, 1920

The South-west New Guinea Expedition was the very first Dutch scientific expedition launched to penetrate the deep, entirely unknown interior of Dutch New Guinea. It was organized by the Geographical Society. This large-scale expedition to New Guinea was to be the first of a planned series of three or four expeditions to the inhospitable south part of the island – the more easily navigable north coast had already been visited several times – launched to map this region entirely. Apart from that, one or more peaks in the Central Highlands were to be climbed in order to verify whether Jan Carstensz in 1623 had actually seen snow from his ship, instead of white limestone formations brightened by the intense tropical sun. The expedition also had a more or less political urgency. In 1902 the administrative post of Merauke had been established, not far from the border with British colonial territory. The English, as well as the Germans in the north-eastern part of New Guinea, were pushing ahead with opening up their colonies. The Dutch, in contrast, were hesitant in this regard and had even been lax about it. The time was therefore ripe for large-scale actions and the

57 Ritual dance staff, used during inauguration rituals Collected during the South-west New Guinea Expedition of 1904-1905. Wood, paint 183 x 9 cm Marind-anim (culture), South coast of Papua, Indonesia Late 19th – early 20th century A-367a. Gift: Artis, 1920



Geographical Society, with its wealth of experience in equipping expeditions, took the lead in the exploration of the interior of Dutch New Guinea, which had never before been penetrated by a Dutchman. The command of the expedition – which consisted of the usual specialists in geology, anthropology,

58 Canoe prow ornament This ornament was put on during the proa festivities that are a part of the kaware festival. The festive presentation of the proas is a spectacular occasion. Men ply the waters in a formation that spans the entire width of the river. The oars used for this are decorated with bunches of sago leaves. It was collected during the South-west New Guinea Expedition of 1904-1905. Wood 170 x 62 cm Kamoro (culture), Southwest Papua, Indonesia Late 19th – early 20th century A-521a. Gift: Artis, 1920

zoology and botany, accompanied by a physician and a large group of coolies for the heavy work and soldiers for security – was placed in the hands of two former military officers: J. Posthumus Meyjes and E.J. de Rochemont, who were at loggerheads from the very first moment. Despite this, a bay was discovered and christened Oost Bay (and shortly thereafter Flamingo Bay, after the largest expedition ship). Two very wide river estuaries, including that of the Noord River (now Unir), could serve as entrances to the distant mountain region, but while exploring the bay and the estuaries, the two expedition ships were surrounded by native proas filled with standing, naked rowers who, following some peaceful exchanges of valuables soon became rowdy, obtrusive, theft-prone and aggressive. On one occasion the crew tried to cast the pushy Papuans off from their ship because they feared they were trying to board. Some blood was spilled, which so enraged the Papuans that they decided to put on a show of force. No fewer than 120 proas containing a total of some one thousand men surrounded the two ships. They remained in the vicinity for hours, until a heavy downpour in the night-time hours perhaps frustrated any further plans for a clash. The men on board, however, remained uncertain about what the actual intention of the flotilla had been in view of the fact that, prior to nightfall, nothing special had occurred. Thoroughly impressed by this event, and fearing for the safety of his men and the dangers of the

unknown river, the commander of the two naval ships decided to return to the coastal regions lying to the west in order to enter the interior in the vicinity of the now well-known Etna Bay (now Teluk Etna) with a large group of men. During the journey, which lasted 87 days, De Rochemont mapped parts of the interior, took many measurements, and climbed to an elevation of more than 2,000 metres above sea level. But the snow fields were not reached, let alone the mountain peaks. The expedition suffered from a profound lack of good preparation, continual downpours, disease and carriers who refused to work. According to Posthumus Meyjes, there were eight men who lost their lives, while De Rochemont mentions at least eleven men dying.9 An extra explorative expedition was taken, lasting a month, over the Digul River on the eastern end of the south coast. Only the river mouth and a small part of the lower stream had previously been mapped. The expedition was considered a fiasco, with the cynical Hendrik Colijn calling it a ‘picnic’.10 And they had a negative aftermath in the reports that the two expedition leaders sent to the financers: in their reports, each leader blamed the other for being the cause of the unsuccessful course of the expedition. The South-west New Guinea Expedition entered history as an unsuccessful enterprise, the result of unrealistic objectives, unrealistic expectations and a flagrant lack of team spirit. But the organizers of later expeditions in the same region – who were still



intent on reaching the ‘tropical snow’ – were able to make use of its geographical observations, measurements, bearings and maps from 1904-1905. Thus three South New Guinea Expeditions that were soon to follow made use of the Noord River to reach the snow-covered peaks. If we limit ourselves here to the ethnographic collections, it can be said that this expedition was the first to build up a large, systematic collection of objects from the south coast cultures of Dutch New Guinea, stretching from the Mimika area in the west to the settlements of the Marind-anim in the east. Seen historically, it is an important collection of 1,743 pieces, mostly implements and weapons. The largest part of the collection – 469 objects – was donated to the Artis Ethnographic Museum. This collection is now in the Tropenmuseum. The ethnographic museums in Leiden and Rotterdam also received 143 and 200 objects respectively. A so-called duplicate collection was divided between the ethnographic museums of Berlin, Hamburg, Cologne and Florence. These gifts also consisted largely of combat and hunting arrows, of which no fewer than 1,022 were collected.11 In conclusion, the 676-page official report on the

59 Expedition members on the aft deck of the expedition ship Zwaluw, South New Guinea First South New Guinea Expedition 1907. Photographer: H.A. Lorentz (1871-1944) or G.M. Versteeg (1876-1943) Gelatin silver print 11.6 x 16.5 cm 1907 60015707. Gift: Dr. H.A. Lorentz, 1907



expedition, to which all members made contributions – with its fold-out maps, diagrams, many illustrations, partial travel reports, lists of native words and its extensive geological, natural-history, ethnographical, anthropological and medical dissertations – is an impressive book. This classic work in scientific literature about the Netherlands’ farthest flung territory says little about the ups and downs that an expensive expedition had to confront when the necessary preconditions were not met.

The South New Guinea Expeditions (1907-1913)12 Three successive expeditions that entered the interior of New Guinea from its southern coast were supported by the East Indies Committee for Scientific Research and, again, the Society for the Promotion of Research in the Natural Sciences in the Dutch Colonies. The goal of the expeditions was to reach the perpetual snow fields and conduct scientific research along the route taken to this destination.

jan willem van nouhuys (1869–1963) Jan Willem van Nouhuys, navigating officer and, from 1901, commander in the Colonial Administration’s Navy in the Netherlands East Indies, was three times the captain of the ship that transported a scientific expedition to Dutch New Guinea. In 1903 he commanded the navy ship that brought the members of the North New Guinea Expedition, under the command of the geologist Arthur Wichmann, to their destination. Van Nouhuys was very interested in the exploration of unknown regions and, although he did not have a scientific background in strict terms, as a naval officer he was trained in hydrography and was also a lover of geology. During the research of Wichmann, he served as his assistant and provided very praiseworthy work in this capacity. Following this successful expedition, Van Nouhuys was asked twice more to participate as captain and fellow researcher in expeditions that, under the command of Hendrik Lorentz, sought to reach the perpetual snow of the high mountains. The first attempt in 1907 was unsuccessful, but during the second of these so-called South New Guinea Expeditions, Van Nouhuys and Lorentz were the first Dutchmen to leave their footprints in the virgin snow that had been observed in the 17th century by Cartensz from a sea ship.

In 1915, Van Nouhuys left the navy and returned to the Netherlands for good with his wife and children. In Rotterdam he became director of the Geographic and Ethnologic Museum (now: Wereldmuseum Rotterdam) and the Prince Hendrik Maritime Museum (now: Maritiem Museum Rotterdam). These two museums merged during his tenure and formed the ideal combination for his knowledge and experience. He was the successor of the legendary first director, Johannes François Snelleman, a man with expedition experience in the Netherlands East Indies. Van Nouhuys occupied this post until he reached retirement age in 1934. During this period he conducted

a considerable amount of ethnological research and published a substantial list of scientific writings under his own name. Following retirement, Van Nouhuys remained a member of a number of associations and committees for many years, which garnered him many honours. He died at the age of 93 with many laurels to his name. In addition to Zwarte menschen – witte bergen, Lorentz’ report on the Second South New Guinea Expedition, Van Nouhuys also published two short works on the expedition. He even devoted an article to the language of the Pesegem, the Papuan group with which they had come into contact several times.

60 Expedition member Van Nouhuys in the saloon of the expedition ship Arend at Bivak Island as he studies maps Second South New Guinea Expedition 1909-1910. Photographer: possibly H.A. Lorentz (1871-1944) Chromoisolar glass negative 13 x 18 cm March 1910 10009344. Gift: Dr. H.A. Lorentz, 1910



61 Proas with Papuans on the Noord River paddling behind one of the expedition ships, South New Guinea First South New Guinea Expedition 1907. Photographer: H.A. Lorentz (1871-1944) or G.M. Versteeg (1876-1943) Gelatin silver print 11.6 x 16.5 cm May 5, 1907 60015714. Gift: Dr. H.A. Lorentz, 1907 62 The camp on Bivak Island by the Noord River (later Lorentz River) First South New Guinea Expedition 1907. Photographer: H.A. Lorentz (1871-1944) or G.M. Versteeg (1876-1943) Glass negative 13 x 18 cm 1907 10009520. Gift: Dr. H.A. Lorentz, 1907

The First South New Guinea Expedition (1907) was led by H.A. Lorentz who, four years previously, had gained experience on the north coast of the island. He was now responsible for zoological and ethnographical research. Two other members of the research team were also former members of the Northern New Guinea Expedition. One of them was naval officer Van Nouhuys, who would focus on geology, topography and meteorology. The medical officer, G.M. Versteeg, was new. As an army doctor who had also been trained in the field, 64


he was responsible for both the medical care of the expedition’s participants and the physical anthropology. The expedition party included several employees of the National Botanical Garden in Buitenzorg as well, which were specialized in building up and caring for a collection of botanical specimens in a herbarium. Lorentz and Versteeg recorded the expedition by means of photographs. In April 1907, the expedition set off for New Guinea on board the Valk from the Javanese port of Surabaya. Via the mouth of the Noord River, they

63 Group photograph of participants and carriers on Observatie Island (Observation Island) near the base camp on Bivak Island, Southern New Guinea. First South New Guinea Expedition 1907. Photographer: H.A. Lorentz (1871-1944) or G.M. Versteeg (1876-1943) Gelatin silver print 11.6 x 16.5 cm 1907 60015694. Gift: Dr. H.A. Lorentz, 1907

steamed a great distance upstream until reaching an island in the middle of the wide river. To mark the occasion, they christened it Bivak Island (Bivouac Island). They continued upstream in smaller boats and canoes. At a certain point, the river became unnavigable, forcing the expedition to continue through the jungle on foot. Lower mountain chains were explored. On reaching the upper elevations, higher mountain ridges that had never been seen before suddenly came into view. They appeared to stand between them and the peaks covered with perpetual snow. The journey had also been extremely hard and, due to a whole range of unforeseen circumstances, it lasted weeks longer than everyone had expected. Exhaustion and disease began to take their toll. Unavoidably, the expedition members had to accept turning back and round mid-October all of the men made it back to Bivak Island and the supply ship. Because the goal of setting foot on the perpetual snow of the central massif had not been accomplished, those who had commissioned the expedition

in the East Indies Committee in Batavia considered the expedition a failure. Lorentz countered this by saying scientific collections had been acquired and they had returned home with precise cartographic data on the region they had traversed. The detailed topography, in the view of Lorentz, would greatly simplify a second attempt at reaching the snowcapped mountain peaks. The organizing authorities gave him the benefit of the doubt and, soon after, Lorentz was allowed to risk a new attempt. In hindsight, the biggest gap in the organization of this first expedition was the lack of a specialized ethnographer in this part of New Guinea with prior knowledge of the local cultures and languages. This would have increased the chance of making better contacts with the population groups. There had been several attacks from Papuans on the bivouacs – we now know they were Asmat – that had resulted from bored soldiers who had unknowingly encroached on the territory of the local population far from their encampment. An armed attack by other Papuans on Camp Alkmaar on 28 July resulted in military



hendrikus albertus lorentz (1871–1944) Hendrik Lorentz was the son of a tobacco planter in East Java who returned to the Netherlands. Lorentz studied law and biology at the National University in Utrecht. Through his family and an extensive network of personal contacts, he became fascinated with the still virtually unknown island of New Guinea. In 1903, he was able to take part in the Northern New Guinea Expedition under the command of the German geologist, Arthur Wichmann. He published a smoothly written report on this expedition for a wide readership. In 1907, he himself led the First South New Guinea Expedition. From 1909 to 1910, he was the commander of the Second South New Guinea Expedition. In the exploration literature these two expeditions are often named after him, i.e. the ‘Lorentz expeditions’. Lorentz also wrote a book about the second expedition: Zwarte menschen – witte bergen (‘Black people – white mountains’). These three expeditions were organized and funded by the Society for the Promotion of Research in the Natural Sciences in the Dutch Colonies. Following his expeditions to New Guinea, Lorentz entered the diplomatic service. After being stationed in Copenhagen for a time, he was appointed in 1916 as Vice Consul in Cape Town, South Africa. In 1921, he was promoted to the position of Consul General in Pretoria. Lorentz promoted Dutch trade with South Africa



and provided assistance to Dutch immigrants who went to South Africa in huge numbers during those years. He was the director of the Dutch Cultural History Institute (Nederlands Cultuurhistories Instituut) in Pretoria and chairman of the Netherlands – South Africa Committee (Nederland – Zuid-Afrika Comité). He spent the years following his retirement in 1937 with his wife and children on his farm in Klerksdorp, where he died. One of the many rivers that rises in the highlands of New Guinea and flows south into the Arafura Sea was called Noord River for a

short time during the Dutch colonial era. The name was then changed to the Lorentz River. Following the transfer of Dutch New Guinea to Indonesia, almost all topographical names that stemmed back to the Dutch past were replaced. Since then, the Lorentz River has been called the ‘Unir’ (or ‘Undir’) in Indonesia, although this name has not become widely accepted. Even the Lorentz National Park – in Indonesian ‘Taman Nasional Lorentz’ – harks back to him. It has appeared on the world heritage list of UNESCO since 1999.

64 H.A. Lorentz, leader of the First South New Guinea Expedition First South New Guinea Expedition 1907. Photographer: possibly G.M. Versteeg (1876-1943) Glass negative 13 x 18 cm 1907 10018686. Gift: Dr. H.A. Lorentz, 1907

engagement – arrows against rifles – during which at least one Papuan, who later proved to be a ‘small’ Pesegem, was shot dead. An interesting detail of the event was that the dead Papuan was buried, only to be exhumed later on the instructions of Lorentz so that the remains could be included in the anthropological collection of the University of Utrecht. This ‘unethical deed’ gained Lorentz a stern reprimand from the Governor General in Batavia after he read the expedition reports.13 In the Second South New Guinea Expedition (19091910) of Lorentz, Van Nouhuys again was a member of the team as the natural science researcher. On 15 March 1909, the expedition members departed from Batavia. They followed the same route taken by the first expedition: steaming up the Noord River until the now-familiar Bivak Island was reached. They continued on in smaller vessels for 100 days, transporting food supplies to Camp Alkmaar located further upstream. On 29 October the men encountered a group of Papuans that began shouting

sinister cries. Lorentz, who still had the armed conflicts with the local population during the first expedition fresh in his memory, wanted to threaten them with weapons and, if necessary, open fire. But Lieutenant D. Habbema successfully restrained him. Everything was settled amicably and the expedition team even spent the night in the village of the people who called themselves Pesegem. Both Lorentz and Van Nouhuys concluded that the man who had been killed during the previous expedition and whose remains had been taken to the University of Utrecht collection had very many similar physical features to that of their current hosts, who now proved to be very friendly. Due to strictly rationed food supplies, the men left the village the next day in order to continue their journey over the heavily broken ground. On 5 November, after making difficult ascents, they reached a plateau at 3,700 metres; two days later they caught sight of the snow at the foot of Wilhelmina Peak (now Puncak Trikora). On 8 November, Lorentz, Van Nouhuys and five Dayak

65 Regeneiland Bivouac (Rain Island Bivouac) flooded by the river during a heavy rainfall, South New Guinea Second South New Guinea Expedition 1909-1910. Photographer: unknown Gelatin silver print 7.8 x 10.8 cm February 1910 60015023. Gift: Dr. H.A. Lorentz, 1910



66 Three Pesegem Mountain Papuans visiting Camp Alkmaar on the Noord River, South New Guinea. Second South New Guinea Expedition 1909-1910. Photographer: H.A. Lorentz (1871-1944) Gelatin silver print 12 x 16.5 cm 1909-1910 60014956. Gift: Dr. H.A. Lorentz, 1910 67 A Papuan offers skulls on the Noord River, South New Guinea Second South New Guinea Expedition 1909-1910. Photographer: J.W. van Nouhuys (1869-1963) Gelatin silver print 12 x 16.5 cm 1909-1910 60014964. Gift: Dr. H.A. Lorentz, 1910



68 Decorated skull Collected during the Second South New Guinea Expedition 1909-1910. Human skull, sago leaf fibre Asmat (culture), South-west Papua, Indonesia Early 20th century A-6496. Gift: Artis, 1920

men reached an enormous snow field at 4,461 metres above sea level. The goal of the expedition had thus been achieved. Human footprints had been placed in the perpetual snow for the first time and, although the highest point of Wilhelmina Peak had not been climbed, the men started back down the mountain with a sense of accomplishment. But misfortune soon struck. In a fall, Lorentz broke a rib and suffered heavy bruising. He was forced to spend a night on the snow as a result. One of the Dayak who had stayed with him through the night froze to death. During the subsequent slow descent, another two Dayak died of exhaustion. After a journey of 68 days, the group arrived back at Camp Alkmaar. Once back at Bivak Island, biology specimens were collected in the wide surroundings and ethnographic artefacts were acquired from a group of Pesegem who visited the camp. Van Nouhuys took anthropological measurements of the Papuans on this occasion who, although they were small in

stature, could not in his view be considered pygmies or representatives of a ‘dwarf race’. During the return journey to the coast, there was another encounter with the Asmat: Occasionally we received visits from Papuans alongside the ship. They made such a deafening noise that it was impossible to do anything. They remained wary and it was not possible to get them on board. Occasionally we would make a visit to their compound, which is located on a small tributary (...). In the houses we visited there is little furnishing. In the middle there is a simple wood fire, with hard loam as a foundation and a small rack around it to dry or roast their food on. Otherwise there is nothing. Only in one house could I barter for a sago bin, made from a folded end leaf of the sago palm tree (...). Axes and machetes were the only things they wanted to barter for. We were so happy to exchange them for a large number of human skulls, most of them ornamented (...). Why they decorate them and what they do with them we do not know. Once I saw an old man with a



skull around his neck as an adornment, but they often do this simply to attract attention when they know that the skulls are objects we cherish. Stone axes gradually sold out here and it will not be easy to acquire more. Where and how they acquire the material is not known, since they live in a country of forests, water and mud.14 On 1 March 1910, the expedition left New Guinea and set course for Batavia. Soon after this, the Noord River was renamed the Lorentz River. A mountain lake seen during the journey in the distance was named Habbema Lake after the military commander of the expedition. Both expeditions became known as the ‘Lorentz expeditions’. In the Netherlands, reaching the perpetual snow was seen as a milestone in the exploration of New Guinea. The success of the adventure was celebrated on 21 May 1910 in Artis with a festive banquet15. The fact that the journey appealed to the public imagination is testified too in the publication of an impressive illustrated boys’ book by Jan Oost: Kranige Hollanders; de beklimming van het Sneeuwgebergte van Nieuw-Guinea (‘Bold Dutchmen; the ascend of the Snow Mountains of New Guinea’),16 that followed on the heels of Lorentz’ report on the expedition in his Zwarte menschen – witte bergen from 1913. The book by Oost concludes with the reminder: May this book act as an encouragement for brave young men to let go of their mothers’ apron strings and enter into the world, cross the wild seas to faraway lands and raise high the renown of the Dutch name! Two years later, the Third South New Guinea Expedition (1912-1913) would set off, using the knowledge and experiences of the two previous journeys of discovery to make an intensive study of the flora and fauna of the area, of the geological structure of the hill country that changes into the native mountainous region and – now a priority – to study the Pesegem people, the contacts with whom were all too fleeting during the second expedition. But the most important goal was to ascend the Wilhelmina Peak, regardless of the cost. They also wanted to make a serious attempt to cross the ridges of the Central Highlands to reach the Idenburg (now Taritatu), a river on the far side. Under the command of A. Franssen Herderschee, 70


men then headed further in the direction of Camp Alkmaar. On the way they had a confrontation with armed unfriendly Papuans, though no one was harmed. Following the old route of his predecessor, Lorentz, Franssen Herderschee continued on with a number of Dayak, coolies and only one soldier. In Pesegem villages they were able to stay and collect extensively. There was even a meeting with a group of Morup, who in the eyes of the expedition members looked exactly like the Pesegem, but who considered themselves as another people. Trading with the native populations varied from easy to difficult:

< 69 Shield Collected during the Second South New Guinea Expedition 1909-1910. Wood, paint 155 x 48 cm Asmat (culture), South-west Papua, Indonesia Late 19th century A-1934. Gift: Artis, 1920 70 Medal Medal commemorating the expedition that reached the perpetual snow of New Guinea. On the front, likenesses of Mr. H.A. Lorentz and J.W van Nouhuys. The medal was commissioned by the Society for the Promotion of Research in the Natural Sciences in the Dutch colonies. Bronze 0.6 x 5.9 x 5.9 cm The Netherlands C. 1938 1810-15. Gift: Koninklijke Begeer N.V., 1948

an officer of the Royal Netherlands Indies Army (KNIL) with extensive expedition experience in Suriname, the company left from Surabaya in September in order to steam into the New Guinea interior via the mouth of the Lorentz River to the now very familiar Bivak Island. On reaching it, the

Once we had won their trust sufficiently, the bartering for ethnographic objects began on a large scale. We had inexpensive knives worth 25ct. a piece, ordinary axes without handles, bead necklaces, small mirrors and similar things on hand. The Pesechem people are extremely practical and therefore want a mirror but immediately see that it has no practical use. So they will give you very little for it. The same was true in respect of the bead necklaces. Axes and knives, on the other hand,

71 Banquet in the ‘Koningszaal’ in Natura Artis Magistra in honour of the safe return of Mr. H.A. Lorentz and J.W. van Nouhuys of the Second South New Guinea Expedition Second South New Guinea Expedition 1909-1910. Atelier Holm Gelatin silver print 23.3 x 29.6 cm May 1910 60048274. Gift: A.V.M. Hubrecht



72 Members of the expedition photographed in Kloof Bivouac (Gorge Bivouac) on the Lorentz River, South New Guinea. Seated from left to right: physician/ zoologist G.M. Versteeg, expedition leader A. Franssen Herderschee, botanist A.A. Pulle. Standing from left to right: detachment commander L.A. Snell, geologist P.F. Hubrecht, native doctor J.B. Sitanala. Third South New Guinea Expedition 1912-1913. Photographer: G.M. Versteeg (1876-1943) or A.A. Pulle (1878-1955) Glass negative 13 x 18 cm April 1912 10009525. Gift: probably A.A. Pulle, 1915

were worth much more. An axe in particular buys a lot. Unfortunately, the people have little of special value to offer. It is almost always the same kinds of things that are offered. Stone axes were offered in abundance and of course they tried to give us the worst examples they had. Bags, arrows, bows, spears, small musical instruments made of bamboo, small knives made of mammal jawbones and stone were traded in large amounts. The necklaces were more expensive. Usually a necklace made of sea shells from the North coast already mentioned [kauris, DvD] was not available at any price; but finally the Lieutenant was able to trade for one. We would have quickly gone through all our bartering material had we not discovered that salt was an ideal article to trade with them. The well-known briquettes of the East Indies salt monopoly were quartered and each piece was used as a ‘unit of currency.17 Later, on the way to Wilhemina Peak, the expedition decided to abandon the plan to look for a shortcut to the north side of the central massif because they 72


realised it was impractical. Finally, on 21 February 1913, following a difficult ascent, they conquered the peak. The climbers were euphoric. Even the Dayak men, who had never before seen snow, were jubilant: they pelted each other with snowballs and wanted to preserve some snow to show it to their comrades who had stayed behind in bivouacs at lower altitudes.On the day that the summit was reached, an unpleasant incident took place in the bivouac where other expedition members were conducting ethnographic and anthropologic research: During our short absence, it seems that cans of food provisions and baggage were stolen or opened. At first there appeared to be little of value missing (but) the worst thing missing was 5 boxes of exposed 13 x 18 photo plates that could not be found, which the thieves probably thought contained food. The boxes contained almost all the pictures taken at the summit of Wichmann Mountain. Their absence was noticed much later, which made their loss irredeemable, as was the loss of bird skins.18

alphons franssen herderschee (1872–1932) Franssen Herderschee entered military service with the KNIL when he was 20. He distinguished himself immediately in several pitched battles that ensued from the colonial expansion of the Netherlands in the Netherlands East Indies. As early as 1895, when he was still a 2nd Lieutenant, he was awarded the Military Order of William I for bravery. He later became an officer with the Topographical Services of the army and was active in Suriname. He was decorated a second time for his leadership of two expeditions to the unknown interior in 1903 and 1904. His work location was moved to Dutch New Guinea, where he was a member of the military exploration detachments that explored large parts of the unknown island between 1907 and 1915. Once again he was the leader of two expeditions: one that unsuccessfully tried to reach the Central Highlands of New Guinea via the Mamberamo, the large river whose source is in the interior and whose mouth is on the northern coast, and in 1912 the so-called Third South New Guinea Expedition (1912-1913), which cleared a path from the southern coast to the interior and accomplished its final goal – to climb the summit of Wilhelmina Peak. Franssen Herderschee is the great unknown explorer in the exploration history of Dutch New Guinea. The expedition of 19121913 was not described by him,

but rather by Prof. A. Pulle, the biologist that participated in the expedition, in his book written for the public at large entitled Naar het sneeuwgebergte van Nieuw-Guinea (Amsterdam, 1914). In the book, Pulle says very little about the character of his expedition companions, including ‘the chief’, as he consistently referred to Franssen Herderschee. Yet Franssen Herderschee does come through between the lines as a man that loves diversion. In the evenings, inside a tent in the bivouac, fierce games of hombre – a card game with chips that, on that occasion, were cut out of tin cans – were played by the light of a paraffin lamp. Franssen Herderschee is also the man that proposed that the team celebrate

Christmas Eve in the correct manner. It appeared that it had been planned in advance: The party on Christmas Eve was an outstanding success. Extra cans of food had been carefully selected and the geologist retrieved a plum pudding from his provisions, which became the grand finale of the celebrations. Even the flaming rum (in our case, spirits were substituted) was provided, to the amazement of a number of Pesechems that were present in the bivouac who, in the middle of the cheerful celebrations, came into the tent to see what was going on (pp. 136-137). Lieutenant Colonel Franssen Herderschee retired from the army in 1920. He died at the age of 60 in Nice, France.

73 Expedition member A. Franssen Herderschee (right) and geologist P.F. Hubrecht in front of their tent in Wichmann Bivouac at 3,024 m altitude Third South New Guinea Expedition 1912-1913. Photographer: G.M. Versteeg Gelatin glass negative 9 x 12 cm 10009253. Gift: probably A.A. Pulle, 1915



74 The Pesegem village of Gleunbeumu was anthropologically studied by A.A. Pulle, South New Guinea Third South New Guinea Expedition 1912-1913. Photographer: A.A. Pulle (1878-1955) Glass negative 6 x 13 cm February 1913 10009021. Gift: probably A.A. Pulle, 1915 75 Members of the expedition in the dining room of the ‘Sirap’ house in Kloof Bivouac on the Lorentz River, South New Guinea Third South New Guinea Expedition 1912-1913. Photographer: P.F. Hubrecht (1889-1930) Glass negative 9 x 12 cm October 1912 10009248. Gift: probably A.A. Pulle 1915 > 76 The approximately 4.700 metres snow-covered summit of mount Wilhelmina as seen from one of the sandstone ridges, New Guinea Third South New Guinea Expedition 1912-1913. Photographer: P.F. Hubrecht (1889-1930) Glass negative 9 x 12 cm February 17-19, 1913 10008621. Gift: probably A.A. Pulle, 1915



77 Two Dayak carriers on the approximately 4,900 metres high Wilhelmina Peak, New Guinea Third South New Guinea Expedition 1912-1913. Photographer: P.F. Hubrecht (1889-1930) Glass negative 9 x 12 cm February 1913 10009311. Gift: probably A.A. Pulle 1915 78 Shield Collected during the Third South New Guinea Expedition 1912-1913. Wood, paint 141 x 45 cm Asmat (culture), South-west Papua, Indonesia Early 20th century A-43. Gift: Artis, 1920

The Third South New Guinea Expedition was a success: Wilhelmina Peak summit was reached and the entire area that the group journeyed through was fully mapped and geologically researched. The collections gathered consisted of more than 1,000 birds, 1,400 botanical specimens and a large number of ethnographic objects that were distributed over national museum collections. A wide-ranging study was also conducted into the Pesegem people and a word list was made for their language.19 The many photographs and the original photo negatives of the expedition made by Herderschee, Versteeg, Pulle and Hubrecht are now a part of the historical photographic collection of the Tropenmuseum in Amsterdam.

The Central New Guinea Expedition (1920-1922) The First World War brought a halt to the series of expeditions for a time, but in 1920 explorers in Batavia were ready to go again. The three southern expeditions had taken place some years ago and the East Indies Committee now wanted to launch an expedition from the northern coast of the island with the goal of conducting scientiďŹ c research in the region between the Idenburg River and the central EXPEDI TI O NS: CO LLECTI NG AN D PH O TO G RAPHI N G


mountain ranges. The end goal, once again, would be to ascend the summit of Wilhelmina Peak. This Central New Guinea Expedition, which would complete the traversal of the island from north to south, had a longer journey ahead of it because the distance from the north coast to the mountain summit was greater than that from the south coast. But because a large part of the route had been mapped in 1914 during a military exploration, the uncertainty about what the expedition party would encounter or could experience on the way was greatly reduced. Despite this, a decision was taken to have the expedition of scientific researchers preceded by a preliminary military expedition whose task it was to explore the terrain again thoroughly, to tidy up the large bivouacs of the previous expeditions and to transport supplies of food and other necessities inland. Six months later, the research team would follow and would not have to waste time waiting until these time-consuming activities were completed.

79 Members of the Central New Guinea Expedition, from left to right: Dr. A. ten Haaf, LieutenantColonel J.H.G. Kremer (leader of the subsequent expedition in 1921-1922), Lieutenant J. Kooy, Lieutenant K. Drost, Captain A.J.A. van Overeem (leader of the expedition), Dr. H.J.T. Bijlmer, Captain J. van Arkel and Controller J. Jongejans. Botanist H.J. Lam is not in the photograph. He joined the expedition at a later date Central New Guinea Expedition 1920-1921. Photographer: probably J. Jongejans Acetate negative (originally a glass negative) 1920-1921. 10009772. Gift: J. Jongejans



On 15 January 1920, the preliminary expedition embarked from Surabaya on the government steamers Albatros and Deneb. On 2 February, via Macassar, Ambon and Manokwari, they arrived at the mouth of the Mamberamo River, which is fed by a number of tributaries that originate in the mountains. Very soon they encountered three of the Papuan groups living in the area, who proved to have had contact previously with the military expedition of 1914. One group – a ‘tribe’ consisting of a handful of people – were called ‘Orang Boromesso’ by the Moluccans, who hunted for birds of paradise here. The Boromesso worked and hunted sometimes for the Moluccans, receiving desirable trinkets and machetes in exchange. Physician Hendrik Bijlmer, who was the first one to stand eye to eye with the inhabitants of the virgin forests, described their appearance precisely but with little enthusiasm. The brash behaviour of the Boromesso, who, just for the fun of it, sometimes made threatening gestures with their machetes when they were given too few objects

80 Portrait of Sasara, a Kauwerawet man from the Mamberamo River basin, in Pioniers Bivouac, Northern New Guinea Central New Guinea Expedition 1920-1921. Photographer: probably H.J.T. Bijlmer (1890-1959) Glass negative 13 x 18 cm 1920 10009104. Gift: H.J.T. Bijlmer 81 Breast ornament Plant fibres, seeds 47 x 3 cm Kauwerawet (culture), catchment area of Mamberamo River, Papua 20th century 253-5. Gift: H.J.T. Bijlmer, 1925

while bartering with the expedition members, was perhaps the reason for this wary attitude: A people that come closer to being truly ‘wild’ is difficult to imagine. They are sturdily built, black and naked, with a cruciform baldric made of shining white rows of shells over their chest and sharply contrasting shell bands around their forehead, arms and hair. They also wear: a coloured band of beads above the eyes, which makes them appear to shine deeper within the sockets, a cross staff through the nasal septum and a terrifying double-pointed wishbone sticking vertically through the tip of the nose to well above the head, with a bamboo tube sticking roughly through a gaping ear lobe and a frightful stomach covering consisting of fibre cord wrapped several hundred times around their midriff, with a cotton loin cloth dangling from it, a huge parang [machete, DvD] to the side and a man-sized bow with a large bundle of arrows in the left hand. Thus these children of the forest make anything but a genial impression.20

An advance guard departed on 20 March headed for Batavia Bivouac. It continued on to the Meervlakte, a large lowland area where the Mamberamo originates from the convergence of the Van der Willigen River and the Idenburg. They forged up the Idenburg, which snaked calmly over the flat land, in order to reach Prauwen Bivouac (Proa Bivouac), the location of the most recent large encampment the soldiers had established in 1914. In August, the expedition was up to strength. The journey now had to continue over land. But, probably due to an estimation error, there was a shortage of carriers for the heavy marches to the distant mountain range. The expedition leader, Van Overeem, took the difficult decision to cancel the expedition to the mountain ridges. The inhabited plain that Doorman had seen from the mountain top named after him thus necessarily became the final destination of the enterprise. On 18 October, they began to descend to what would be the most exciting part of the entire journey: the valley, terra incognita, which was reached after five difficult days of plodding through mountainous and forested terrain. The valley and the river that ran through it were christened ‘Swart Valley’ and ‘Swart River’ by Van Overeem, after the Aceh veteran Lieutenant General Swart, chairman of the East Indies Committee, which had launched the expedition. The Swart Valley was found to be heavily populated by Papuans of short stature, who were encountering Europeans for the first time in their lives. The



82 Departure of the Dayak transport on the Mamberamo River from Pioniers Bivouac, headed upstream to Batavia Bivouac, North New Guinea Central New Guinea Expedition 1920-1921. Photographer: probably: H.J. Lam (1892-1977) Glass negative 9 x 12 cm August 1, 1920 10009164. Gift: H.J. Lam, 1920


Papuans greeted them calmly and warmly. Even the women and children remained visible and did not hide themselves, as was often the case with similar first encounters in New Guinea. To the amazement of the Dutch, the valley dwellers stuck out their right hands in order to welcome them with a handshake. Gifts were passed back and forth and the guests were allowed to build a shelter near a small village without interference. A pig was slaughtered for a banquet, which marked the beginning of a pleasant stay lasting six weeks among these peace-loving farmers – called Oeringgoep or Timorini in the expedition literature21 – who carefully tended their crops of taro, sweet potatoes, sugar cane, bananas and tobacco. Bijlmer provided a brief description of the material culture of the valley dwellers, which focused special attention on their jewellery: OCEANIA

Except for the (...) scarce shells, all the jewellery came from the surrounding nature. Strings of seeds play a prominent role, and are accompanied by a wide range of plant and animal materials: feathers, fur bands, raptor talons, rounded feather leggings, leaves, rushes and whatnot. Sometimes you see tremendous headdresses made of cassowary feathers, while the colourful birds of paradise and parakeets had been incorporated into ceremonial headdresses. Nasal septum and ear lobes appeared to be pierced, but not the tip of the nose, as is common in the Mamberamo lands. Yet these holes were seldom used for jewellery; a couple of boar tusks seemed to be the usual ornament for the nasal septum, at least among the men. 22 The penis gourd, a typical male garb in the Central Mountains, can now be found in all sizes and types in the depots of the Dutch ethnological museums,

83 The expedition on the Doorman Peak, some 3,800 metres high, ready for the descent into the Swart valley in Central New Guinea Central New Guinea Expedition 1920-1921. Photographer: probably H.J. Lam (1892-1977) Glass negative 9 x 12 cm October 18, 1920 10009151. Gift: H.J. Lam, 1920 84 Uringgup from the Swart Valley wearing a plaited rattan cuirass, Central New Guinea Central New Guinea Expedition 1920-1921. Photographer: probably J. Jongejans Glass negative 9 x 12 cm 1920-1921 10008123. Gift: J. Jongejans, 1929

but in 1920 it was still a fairly new object in the ethnographic reports: This first thing that draws one’s attention when looking at native men, and particularly because they walk around completely naked, is the penis gourd. It is entirely the same model found among the Pesechems and other mountain Papuans. The gourd is held a little to the side in an erect position by a cord wrapped around their midriff, while its base rests on the scrotum. The length varies from ± 2 to ± 4 dm, with a thickness of approximately 4 to 5 cm. There are both straight and curved gourds, the arch pointing up or down. Now the calabash gourd from which it is made has an even width throughout its length, only narrowing into a point at its end. It is almost always open at the end, but this opening is always sealed with a wad of dry leaves. Very handily, this wad is used as a pin cushion, with nearly always a bone bodkin or needle hidden there! On further enquiry, it was found that there is no standard model for this penis gourd, as the variations are unlimited. I was once shown a metre-long spiral shaped, curled specimen, undoubtedly a ceremonial model! Remarkably, none of these gourds have any decorative motif on them. It has occurred to me that the objects described cannot be classified under ‘clothing’, they belong to ‘adornment’. Unfortunately, we were unable to ascertain the deeper significance of this wonderful costume.23

After a stay of six pleasant weeks, the return journey commenced. Despite the fact that the preliminary expedition had filled in a blank spot on the map and had researched an unknown population group – they came home with anthropological notes and measurements, a considerable collection of ethnographic objects and hundreds of photographs – the enterprise was not considered to have been entirely successful because the summit of Wilhelmina Peak had not been climbed. With this in mind, a subsequent expedition was equipped in June 1921 under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Kremer. In Pioniers Bivouac, the Swiss ethnologist Paul Wirz joined the team. Due to his wealth of experience with field research



85 Inhabitant of the Swart Valley in front of his house with a member of the expedition Central New Guinea Expedition 1920-1921. Photographer: probably J. Jongejans Glass negative 9 x 12 cm 1920-1921 10010057. Gift: J. Jongejans


elsewhere in New Guinea, the Indisch Comité had given him permission to participate in the expedition as a scientific researcher. Wirz was thus the first professional ethnologist to join an expedition in Dutch New Guinea. With new soldiers, new Dayak men and even more carriers, the same route was taken via the old large bivouacs – some of which remained manned – until a select group could continue on via the Swart Valley to the central mountain ridges. Wirz remained in the Swart Valley for his ethnographic research. Following a difficult journey of 90 kilometres through the high mountains, the Wilhelmina Peak summit was reached on 4 December. With this, the Central New Guinea Expedition – actually consisting of two separate expeditions – was brought to a successful end. The treatise that Wirz was to write on the Papuans of the Swart Valley was the first extensive field study of a highland culture in New OCEANIA

Guinea.24 Later, Wirz was to publish more on his research and findings for a broader readership.25 Bijlmer earned his doctorate in 1922 in Amsterdam by virtue of his extensive physical anthropological studies in the Swart Valley.26 The objects collected and the expedition photographs found their way into Dutch museums, including the Tropenmuseum.

The Stirling expedition (1926) The Stirling expedition was a joint enterprise between Dutch and American scientists that was particularly characterized by poor planning and preparation. The expedition should have been short and spectacular, as the Americans were used to; it required a work method which people did not like in the Netherlands East Indies. For this reason, things went differently from what the Americans

had in mind. The results were good nonetheless. Because the following information is being published for the very first time in this publication, it is described in greater detail than the other expeditions. The initiative for the expedition was taken by the Americans. The young anthropologist, Matthew Stirling, had learnt from the scientific expedition reports of A.F.R. Wollaston from The British Ornithologists’ Union Expedition (1909/10) and The Wollaston Expedition (1912/13) that there were pygmies in the Central Highlands of New Guinea. He wanted to see them with his own eyes in order to study, photograph and film them. Stirling was not familiar with the Dutch-language books and articles devoted to the question of whether these people were actually pygmies. He came up with a fast-moving undertaking in which the expedition would make use of an aeroplane to transport people and goods to the island’s interior, conduct research and return home. He brought people together to get this enterprise off the ground and received the full support of the Smithsonian Institute and the University of California at Berkeley. Things went wrong from the start in making the necessary preparations. Already in the beginning of 1925 Stirling sent a request via the American ambassador in The Hague to the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs asking to be allowed to organize the expedition. The Ministry then sent a letter to the government in the East Indies in April 1925 asking for advice, nearly a year before the start of the planned expedition. This was thought to be sufficient to enable the entire expedition to be organized. The Netherlands East Indies government responded positively and between April and June maintained telegraphic contact with America several times. But after not receiving any messages from America later on, they concluded in Batavia that the entire project had been abandoned and suspended preparations. So they were greatly surprised when Stirling and the entire American crew with aircraft showed up in Batavia in January 1926.27 Thoroughly embarrassed, they tried to organize the rest of the expedition as quickly as possible. On 26 January a meeting was convened by the East Indies Committee for Scientific Research in Weltevreden28 in order to establish the exploration area: a still entirely unknown part of the Nassau Mountains at the headwaters of the Rouffaer River (now Tariku).

It was a virtually inaccessible mountain area at altitudes ranging from 1,500 to 3,000 metres. They asked Dr. W. Docters van Leeuwen, Director of the National Botanical Garden in Buitenzorg, to collect and study the local flora and fauna and C.C.F.M. Le Roux, a cartographer, ethnographer and also the curator of the Museum of the Batavian Society of Arts and Sciences, to take measurements and collect ethnographic objects. The long route from the north via the Mamberamo River and Rouffaer River was considered to be the safest, easiest and therefore the fastest. The East Indies Committee, which funded the expedition, attached considerable value to the use of the aircraft. To maintain communication with the outside world, a radio station went along. The expedition was estimated to last some eight months; they expected to be back home by the end of November. Stirling, the initiator, was made responsible for leading the expedition. The Dutch Commander Captain R. Posthumus was appointed as the military leader and was given a force of some 130 Dayak from Borneo, who were responsible for transporting the goods by the rivers to the different bivouacs, approximately 140 prison labourers, who were used as carriers and to perform heavy work, as well as a small army of some 80 troops to guard the prison labourers and to protect the various bivouacs and the scientists against hostile tribes during their journeys. In all, the expedition counted some two hundred men, a large number that required strict leadership, particularly when it was found that animosity among the Dayak and disease and a lack of motivation on the side of the prison labourers were leading to disruptions and delays. But the leadership proved to be patchy. Stirling was a man of ideas. He did not know, however, how to realise these ideas under the unfamiliar Dutch colonial circumstances. He had no knowledge of Dutch and knew nothing about Dutch colonial culture. This unavoidably led to clashes. The transport of more than 200 men and all provisions for the various bivouacs for a period of eight months, as well as the transport of the aircraft with the required petrol, was also upset due to miscommunication between the Americans and the Dutch. Posthumus assumed there would be two separate missions. The first echelon would be the responsibility of the soldiers, who would set up the base bivouac beside the Mamberamo River, necessary



< 86 Feather headdresses of the Moni and Dèm Mountain Papuans for men Dutch and American Central New Guinea Expedition 1926. Mas Pirngadie (c. 1879-1936). Drawing 46 x 66 cm 1926-1936 60041386. Gift: Koninklijk Nederlands Aardrijkskundig Genootschap 87 A motorboat is used to tow the seaplane The Ern to open water in the Mamberamo River near Albatros Bivouac, with the pilot Hoyte at the back and Matthew Stirling in front Dutch and American Central New Guinea Expedition 1926. Photographer: Dr. W.M. Docters van Leeuwen (1880-1960) Nitrate negative 9 x 12 cm 1926 10009200. Gift: Dr. W.M. Docters van Leeuwen, 1930

for a period of two months, followed by a second echelon for the expedition of the scientific staff. So it was enormously frustrating for him when he visited the S.S. Fomalhaut, the ship that was to transport the first echelon of goods, on 6 April in Tandjong Priok. The entire American crew with all its equipment had already been shipped in and they were busy loading the scientific equipment (including many bottles of alcohol to conserve plant and animal specimens) for the biologist Docters van Leeuwen. There was hardly any space left over for the military goods of the engineering corps or for the necessary food supplies that had to be loaded in Surabaya.29 In the end, the S.S. Fomalhaut left Surabaya on 9 April. Posthumus remained behind in Java to arrange the transport of the second echelon. The aircraft The Ern was an American biplane seaplane and would have room for several passengers and cargo. Hoisting the aircraft on board was a spectacular sight and the American film maker R.K. Peck caught the whole thing on film from all sides. The mood of the group was still buoyant at the time. On 15 April 84


the ship arrived at Ambon with a slightly damaged aircraft due to heavy weather. On Ambon the goods were transferred to the expedition ship, the S.S. Albatros, which departed on 24 April and arrived at the mouth of the Mamberamo River on 29 April. Because of the high water level, they were not able to use the existing Pioniers Bivouac. So a new base camp was set up on the west bank of the river and named after the transport ship that had brought them there: Albatros Bivouac. The aircraft remained on board the Fomalhaut for the time being in order to be unloaded at a later stage in the mouth of the Mamberamo River. From there, it would fly to the base camp. On 9 May it was hoisted into the water from the ship and then it took off to make the first successful flight over New Guinea. It landed in the Mamberamo River at Albatros Bivouac. Posthumus was not impressed by the aircraft.The S.S. Albatros finally arrived with the goods and people of the second echelon at Albatros Bivouac on 11 May and the expedition was thus complete.

The Americans preferred that several research members flew in the aircraft with baggage to the Upper Rouffaer River and set up camp there. But this would have to occur without a military escort because Posthumus absolutely refused to expose his soldiers to the dangers of the aircraft. If the researchers still wanted to set off on their own, then military assistance in the event of an emergency would not be forthcoming or would probably come too late. When Posthumus presented the gentlemen with a written statement to this effect that had to be signed, the Americans backed down. Among the Americans, the journalist Mr S.A. Hedberg, made the following sarcastic remark: The Army sure is jealous of the plane and will do everything in its power to hamper its activities. All of the army and navy men are drawing double pay for service in New Guinea, so they naturally wouldn’t be in any hurry to get into the interior. 30 As an alternative, on 15 May the pilot H. Hoyte and Stirling first made a reconnaissance flight to the interior in order to see where the men could land and unload food supplies on the upper part of the Rouffaer River. They selected Splitsing Bivouac (Fork Bivouac), somewhere between Motor Bivouac

and Hoofd Bivouac (Main Bivouac) where, under the watchful eye of the few unfriendly Papuans, a load of food weighing around 145 kg was unloaded and, later on, was to go missing. The flight had put a heavy load on the aircraft. As a result, it had to undergo an overhaul that took several days. While Posthumus and his soldiers focused on the further transport of goods and material to the Batavia Bivouac upstream, the scientific researchers focused on exploring the surrounding area. After making various small botanical journeys around the bivouac location, Docters van Leeuwen set off on a longer journey, from 26 May to 1 June, in the direction of the Van Gelderen River. Le Roux and Stirling set off on the same day to visit a Papuan village in the Van Rees Mountains.31 They set out from the bank at the mouth of the Oewama River and followed the river upstream into the mountains. After two days, they reached the Takoetamesso village of Pisano32, where they stayed for eight days. Le Roux compiled a list of Papuan words and made several recordings of Papuan songs. Stirling took anthropological measurements. The mood among the Americans changed considerably over the course of time. They were clearly bothered by all the arrangements being made and conversations being held in Dutch, which they

88 Recording songs with a phonograph, sung by members of the Kauwerawet tribe in front of the men’s house in Pisano, North New Guinea Dutch and American Central New Guinea Expedition 1926. Photographer: C.C.F.M. Le Roux (1885-1947) Glass negative 24 x 30 cm May 26 - June 3,1926 10008304. Gift: C.C.F.M. Le Roux, 1927



89 Axe Heavy axe for felling trees, chopping firewood and planks for the house. Wood, stone 67 x 20 cm Western Central Highlands, Papua, Indonesia 20th century 514-170. Gift: Comité voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek in Nederlandsch-Indië, 1929 90 Shoulder bag with hunting trophies, bird feet and upper bill of a Papuan Hornbill Fibre, animal remains C. 38 x 28 cm Western Central Highlands, Papua, Indonesia 20th century 514 279. Gift: Comité voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek in Nederlandsch-Indië, 1929


did not understand. It also appeared that Stirling did not discuss everything with his own group, which led to misunderstandings and irritation. In Posthumus’ absence, Docters van Leeuwen, the representative of the East Indies Committee, was suddenly given an increasing number of tasks out of necessity and gradually took on more of the organizational side. This inevitably resulted in a changing of the guard. With the approval of the East Indies Committee, Docters van Leeuwen was appointed as the leader, a role that he was not eager to take up because he was afraid it would leave him too little time for his botanical research expeditions. The change in leadership did not change the feelings of distrust and irritation between the American and Dutch expedition members. Despite this, they only had to continue their joint activities as best they could. Everything was now ready to continue the expedition into the island’s interior. On 17 June, Docters van Leeuwen was the first to accompany the transport run to Batavia Bivouac, but he turned back after a couple of days when he contracted malaria. The aircraft performed poorly and had to be repaired often. On 18 June, its pontoons became irreparably damaged and it had to be left in the jungle. After a stay of two and a half months in the base camp, Stirling, Le Roux, Hedberg and Peck finally departed on 12 July with the transport of goods to Batavia Bivouac, followed by Docters van Leeuwen


on 17 July. Docters van Leeuwen made several botanical research expeditions. The others tried to make contact with the Papuan population in order to collect ethnographic objects through barter. Le Roux and Stirling would divide the collection between them in a fair manner. The rapidly rising water of the Rouffaer River made supplying the flooded Motor Bivouac difficult. An alternative land route was created between Wacht Bivouac (Waiting Bivouac)33 and Hoofd Bivouac. Following a long stop for botanical research at Wacht Bivouac, Docters van Leeuwen reached Hoofd Bivouac via the land route on 3 September. In the meantime, Stirling and Le Roux had forged ahead on foot and at the end of August reached the final goal of the journey: the villages of Tombe and Damoennaroe, located in a small valley surrounded by summits some 2,550 metres high. After a difficult climb, they reached the villages via a dangerouslooking Papuan suspension bridge. To the south they had a magnificent view of the Nassau mountain chain (now Pegunungan Sudirman) with peaks reaching 3,950 metres. Here they set up Explorateurs Bivak (Explorers Bivouac) for a longer stay in order to study the Papuans in the area. They were warmly received by the village chief, Iegoen, who served as their guide and source of information over the coming months:

91 Expedition member C.C.F.M. Le Roux with his EastmanKodak panorama camera at Albatros Bivouac photographs a proa with Kauwerawet Papuan men Dutch and American Central New Guinea Expedition 1926. Photographer: Dr. W.M. Docters van Leeuwen (1880-1960) Nitrate negative 9 x 12 cm 1926 10008109. Gift: Dr. W.M. Docters van Leeuwen, 1930 92 Panorama photograph of a group of Kauwerawet Papuans in a proa on the Mamberamo River at Albatros Bivouac, taken with an Eastman-Kodak panorama camera Dutch and American Central New Guinea Expedition 1926. Photographer: C.C.F.M. Le Roux (1885-1947) Gelatin silver print 14.4 x 39.2 cm 1926 60041094. Gift: Koninklijk Nederlands Aardrijkskundig Genootschap

For us it was a pleasant feeling to have landed here between such warm-hearted, friendly, honest people. They are generally not pushy and have an extremely peaceful character. These characteristics gave us the certainty that we could work among these people safely and fruitfully. 34 At the end of September, Peck and Hedberg also arrived in Explorateurs Bivouac and, a day later, Docters van Leeuwen joined them. The three Americans made an expedition into the surrounding area, from which they returned contented. Le Roux, too, regularly set off on foot. Docters van Leeuwen

set about his botanical work and, in the company of Le Roux, made a trip lasting several days to a moss forest to collect plants. The inhabitants of the villages were anthropologically and ethnographically studied and Le Roux expanded his list of native words. The mountains with the snow-covered slopes to the south were also observed, described, photographed and ďŹ lmed from the vantage point of a high peak. The soldiers made themselves useful by bringing in supplies of the various expedition provisions. At the beginning of December, everyone was reunited in Albatros Bivouac. One last divvy of the ethnographic objects took place with particular



attention given to packing them. But there was also time for relaxation, certainly for the soldiers. Posthumus organized a football match on the terrain, which had been specially prepared and festively decorated for the occasion, but did not invite the expedition’s scientific researchers to the game. For the sake of peace, they did not make a fuss about it. Despite the squabbling, the misunderstandings and the arguments during the trip, the members of the expedition were able to keep up the appearance of unity and solidarity to the outside world. That did not alter the fact that, signals were picked up during the expedition, by the outside world via the press that not everything was peaceful. The change in the leadership also raised people’s suspicions. Once the expedition members were back home, the stories and reactions to them started to be told and the friction could no longer be concealed. Shortly after the return, Posthumus and Stirling were interviewed by a journalist of Het Soerabajasch Handelsblad. The newspaper Nieuwe Rotterdamsche Courant, included this double interview in an article that appeared on 29 January 1927.35 In the article, Posthumus acknowledged that he actually led the expedition throughout the enterprise, despite the change in leadership. He thought that the level of scientific research in the expedition was amateurish and he was very pessimistic about the results achieved. He blamed Docters van Leeuwen and Le Roux in particular for driving a wedge between the Americans and the soldiers by deposing Stirling and taking over the leadership. In his view, he actually had very good contact with Stirling, who had given him a written statement in which he recorded his experiences with the soldiers. Stirling, on the other hand, told an entirely different story in the double interview. He was full of praise for the Dutch scientific researchers and thanked them and the East Indies Committee for the excellent collaboration. He questioned the view of Posthumus, who, by his behaviour, tried to disparage the scientific results and play them down, in which he did not succeed. According to Stirling the relations between the scientists were always good, despite a few differences of opinion. Stirling was also very happy with the result achieved. At the start of 1927, a full-blown controversy erupted in the press over the mistakes that had been made in the spending and organization of the expedition. 88


Question marks were soon placed concerning the hasty organization at the start and over the runaway costs. The East Indies Committee had estimated in advance that the total costs would be 44,000 guilders, which it could cover with his own resources, subsidies and American payments. But the final costs came to nearly 200,000 guilders for the non-military expenditures and nearly 100,000 guilders for the military expenditures. The latter expenses were borne by the Department of War, but the East Indies Committee now found itself saddled with a debt of nearly 150,000 guilders that it could by no means pay. In the end, this bill was also laid on the steps of the Department of War.36 Apart from that the press also wrote that the results of the expedition had been successful. Reinforced by comments made by Stirling, Docters van Leeuwen and particularly Le Roux emphasized the results of the expedition in the press and in lectures. Approximately 2,500 plants had been collected and described by Docters van Leeuwen. In total some 8,000 ethnographic objects had been collected by Le Roux and Stirling and distributed between the two participating scientific teams. A part of the Dutch share was sent to the Museum of the Batavian Society in Batavia. The rest was shipped to the Netherlands and placed in the Colonial Museum in Amsterdam, who in turn distributed it among the other museums of ethnography in Rotterdam, Leiden, London, Hamburg, Paris and Vienna. Extensive records were also made via photography and film. The Americans had taken a film camera along which was operated by the filmmaker Peck, who had come along for the purpose. The result of the film By Aeroplane to Pygmy Land is a magnificent document that was very successful both in America and in the Netherlands. The final Dutch version was adapted and edited by Le Roux. In the end, separate fragments made their way to the EYE Film Institute Netherlands in Amsterdam, which compiled a new version from them in the 1990s entitled Expeditie door Nieuw-Guinea 1926 (‘Expedition through New Guinea 1926’). According to reports, Posthumus too had brought a film camera that was specially purchased by the military leadership.37 Unfortunately, nothing is known about any results of this reputed film. Almost all the members of the expedition team, both the Dutch and the Americans, had cameras

93 Father Tillemans, priest of Kaukenau, with a Tapiro, South New Guinea Mimika Expedition 19351936. Photographer: H.J.T. Bijlmer (1890-1959) Gelatin silver print 16.5 x 16.9 cm 1935-1936 60011007. Gift: Prof. Dr. V.J. Koningsbergen, 1961

with them. The results of the American contingent can be found in the archives of the Smithsonian Institute in Washington. On the Dutch side, Docters van Leeuwen and Le Roux took countless photographs. Their photos and negatives are preserved in the Photo Collection of the Tropenmuseum.38

The Mimika expedition (1935-1936) The mountain dwellers of New Guinea continued to keep scientific minds occupied and in 1935 another expedition was launched into the interior: the Mimika expedition. This time it was not so much a journey of discovery but an anthropological research trip to the western Central Highlands to study the

groups of ‘dwarf peoples’ living there more thoroughly. The specific goal of the expedition was to make extensive contact with the Tapiro, the primitive ‘pygmies’ who were discovered in 1910 by the British ornithological expedition and with whom fleeting contacts had been made by Hendrik Bijlmer in 1931 during a medical inspection trip in the area. Physician Bijlmer now commanded the expedition that was being financially supported by the Society for the Promotion of Research in the Natural Sciences in the Dutch Colonies. The trip through the jungle was not easy, but it was fairly short. By the start of November, they had reached the village of the Tapiro, where they set up a new bivouac. On this expedition the tribe they were to study was not completely ‘unknown’.



hendricus johannes tobias bijlmer (1890–1959)

The physician Hendrik Bijlmer, a student of the physical anthropologist J. P. Kleiweg de Zwaan who was affiliated with the Colonial Instititute in Amsterdam, worked for years as a government doctor in Dutch New Guinea. He is especially remembered for his participation in the Dutch Central New Guinea Scientific expedition in 1920-1921 and his leadership of the Mimika expedition in southwestern New Guinea in 1935-1936. As a physical anthropologist he primarily studied the physical characteristics of a number of, up to now, little known or entirely unknown groups of mountain Papuans during these expeditions. For his entire scientific career, Bijlmer remained focused on the evolutionary position and cultures of the inhabitants of New Guinea. In 1933, he became an unsalaried lecturer in physical anthropology and genetics at the University of Amsterdam. After the Second World War, he stayed in the Netherlands East Indies and New Guinea for another seven years working in high administrative and organizational positions for the Medical Service in Makassar, from 1945 to 1950, and in Hollandia, from 1952 to 1954. Following his return to the Netherlands, he served nine years as secretary of Simavi, an organization that supports health-related projects for the poorest people in the world. Bijlmer left a large body of



work, primarily consisting of technical treatises on physical anthropology and both short and long expedition reports. His popular report on the Mimika expedition, Naar de achterhoek der aarde, was reprinted several times. In his book Nieuw-Guinea from 1946, a short introduction to the land and people of New Guinea, Bijlmer nostalgically looks back on the best period of his life, the expeditions to the island’s interior: The camp: a spot is cleared on a bank that appears safe due to its height above the river. The busy sound of chopping and hauling away brush, and then of the building of simple barracks made from slender branches put together, provides a pleasurable change to the silent sitting in the proa. Darkness falls and what a darkness it is! The dark forest becomes pitch black. The piercing chirp of the crickets bellows in broken chorus. The campfires flare, the coffee is put on, the evening meal is prepared. Everyone is crouching happily together in small groups, refreshed by the cool of the evening and a bath in the river. Crocodiles? Well, they stay clear of such a bustling camp site. This first cup of coffee glides down the parched throat like nectar and an hour later the simple meal of rice soothes a hungry stomach. Another hour further, all fires but one have been put out, the bivouac sinks into a deep peace (p. 41-42).

Here Bijlmer dreams about the old familiar, primitive New Guinea that, after the Second World War, forever became a thing of the past when – and here we hear the physical anthropologist speaking – ‘White’ and ‘Yellow’, with ‘Black’ as a non-entity, changed the island into a battlefield of ‘the most modern cast’ (p.5).

94 Portrait of H.J.T. Bijlmer, leader of the Mimika Expedition, in the Charles Louis Mountains at an altitude of 3,000 m Mimika Expedition 1935-1936. Photographer: unknown Gelatin silver print 12.5 x 12.2 cm 60010999. Gift: Prof. Dr. V.J. Koningsberger

95 Proa with Kamoro rowers Mimika Expedition 1935-1936. Photographer: H.J.T. Bijlmer (1890-1959) Nitrate negative 6 x 6 cm 1935-1936 10032967. Gift: P.A.J. Moojen

Father Tillemans, who worked on the southern coast and who accompanied Bijlmer as an interpreter and expert on the region, had been greeted by old friends and Bijlmer also recognized people from his previous short trip in 1931. However, after a difficult trip lasting several days further east into the interior, they did stay for the first time in a settlement of the Tapiro that was never visited before and where, despite the fact that these people made extensive use of imported iron axe blades, they were able to study their daily life from the ‘stone age’. The people were photographed and measured in order to determine their racial characteristics. New metal axes, knives, mirrors and beads were traded for native artefacts. On 26 November they arrived back in Kaukenau – the small-scale expedition to the Tapiro had lasted only a month. Following a short stay on the Mimika coast, where, in the context of his anthropological research Bijlmer

was able to determine the blood groups of inhabitants in different large Kamoro villages the team set off on 7 December headed west with the Griffioen in order to make their way up the JeraRiver, which would lead to new mountain dwellers that had never before been researched.They especially wanted to come into contact with the inhabitants of the Paniai Mountains, which were known in the area to be a large group that maintained extensive trading contacts with other groups, perhaps even with groups that lived on the north side of the central mountain range. The expedition team paddled upstream again. After three days’ march from the established Jera River Bivouac, they reached the first village of Mountain Papuans. Following a difficult climb lasting five days over mountain ridges some 2,500-3,000 metres high and a long descent, they finally came upon settlements and gardens at an elevation of 1,500 metres in a river valley. Paniai



96 Man from the mountains Mimika Expedition 1935-1936. Photographer: H.J.T. Bijlmer (1890-1959) Nitrate negative 6 x 6 cm 1935-1936 10032909. Gift: P.A.J. Moojen


Bivouac was established and the expedition remained there from 26 December 1935 to 9 January 1936 among the peaceful population. The village chief even sent messengers to nearby villages in order to drum up people there to come and visit the expedition team. Bijlmer was able to measure no fewer than 300 adult men, ďŹ nally coming to the conclusion that these mountain dwellers were of small stature, but were certainly not pygmies OCEANIA

(for which a height of 1.50 m was the norm). They easily obtained ethnographic objects and the process of bartering sometimes led to hilarious scenes: They brought us a wide range of things, such as nets, loin gourds, ornaments made of bird feathers, seeds and teeth, and ďŹ nally also fragments of a light yellow mineral and pieces of quartz. The Kapaukos quickly

97 Head adornment made from cuscus bones and feathers, worn by men Animal remains 33.5 x 14.5 cm Ekari (culture), Paniai Lake (Wissel Lakes), Papua, Indonesia 20th century 1024-7. Gift: Maatschappij ter bevordering van het Natuurkundig Onderzoek der Nederlandsche koloniën. Through mediation of H.J.T. Bijlmer, 1936 98 Ear ornament Reed, seeds, fibre 11 cm Ekari (culture), Paniai Lake (Wissel Lakes), Papua, Indonesia 20th century 1024-13a. Gift: Maatschappij ter bevordering van het Natuurkundig Onderzoek der Nederlandsche koloniën. Through mediation of H.J.T. Bijlmer, 1936 99 Plaited shoulder bag adorned with boar’s teeth and cassowary bone Bag for small necessities such as flint, tobacco, shell money, etc. Organic fibres, animal remains c. 14 x 40 cm Ekari (culture), Paniai Lake (Wissel Lakes), Papua, Indonesia 20th century 1024 35. Gift: Maatschappij ter bevordering van het Natuurkundig Onderzoek der Nederlandsche koloniën. Through mediation of H.J.T. Bijlmer, 1936

noticed that we were carefully inspecting the two last items, which they gave the general name of gadowrie – and which had the same status in their eyes that we give gemstones. And then a mischievous boy offered a stone to me, which gleamed beautifully like silver... It was too wonderful to be real: he had wrapped a simple pebble in a piece of silver paper from our kwatta chocolate! Our companions played innocent and did not laugh until after we discovered the trick and then heartily laughed along with us.39 A special event in Paniai Bivouac was the arrival of ten men from a northern population group, considered by all the Mountain Papuans that we had got to know in the meantime to be a people of a different type from themselves. Their visit to

the bivouac prompted the hundreds of valley dwellers who had gathered, to step back to clear a path for them and then squat down out of respect. The men of the group, called Manneku, had sharper features, were more sturdily built and spoke an unintelligible dialect. They made a proud impression and refused every gift offered with the argument that they had come to visit and greet the strangers, not to engage in trade. The expedition was successful. The Tapiro, who had not been systematically studied since the British expedition of 1910, could be confirmed in their ‘dwarf status’, although their average height was a little higher than that which had been established by the English. Contact was made for the first time with other groups of Mountain Papuans. And the discov-



100 A Moni woman with finger mutilation, Central New Guinea Central New Guinea Expedition of the KNAG 1939-1940. Photographer: probably Dr. D. Brouwer Gelatin silver print 6.2 x 6.2 cm 1939-1940 60055976. Gift: A. Brouwer v.d. Lee 101 The large boat; the expedition ship Princess Juliana with goods and crew headed for the east, Central New Guinea Central New Guinea Expedition of the KNAG 1934-1940. Photographer: unknown 6.2 x 6.2 cm Gelatin silver print 1939-1940 60055964. Gift: J. Koen


ery and study of the Pania groups, in particular, served as the jewel in the crown. The encounter with the Manneku from the more northerly regions, who were considered to be different, confirmed the suspicion that there were various trade contacts between the isolated mountain communities that were spread over the central mountain massif of New Guinea. 40 In short: following the Mimika expedition, there was a fairly complete picture of the inhabitants of the south-western highlands of the then Dutch New Guinea. The anthropological and ethnographic collections gathered during the expedition were soon after the adventure placed with several Dutch museums, including the Tropenmuseum, where photographs of the expedition are a part of the collection.

The Le Roux Expedition 1939


The KNAG (Royal Dutch Geographical Society) only organized three expeditions in New Guinea, but they were large-scale operations. The first of them was made to South-west New Guinea in


1904/05. The second took place in 1939 and was officially called ‘The Expedition of the KNAG to the Wissel Lakes area and the Nassau Mountains on Dutch New Guinea in 1939’, but is better known as ‘The Le Roux Expedition’. The last and most expensive of the expeditions followed in 1959/60 to the Star Mountains. For the second KNAG expedition of 1939, a preparation committee had been set up years in advance. C.C.F.M. le Roux, the curator of the National Museum of Ethnology in Leiden, was involved in its organization because in 1926 he had participated in the Stirling expedition to the interior of New Guinea. That fact that, on the initiative of Le Roux, this expedition was sent to the central highlands is not surprising. The Wissel Lakes had been ‘discovered’ in 1936.42 The region was ripe to be opened up and to be researched. The research conducted by Le Roux in 1926 could also be used to make the connection between the still unknown areas of the Wissel Lakes, the basis of the 1939 expedition, and the headwaters of the Rouffaer River, which had been mapped during the Stirling expedition in 1926. The operating base was Etna Bay on the south coast of New Guinea. Two Fokker T IV seaplanes with crews were used to transport people and goods to Paniai Lake, to drop food supplies during the different patrols and to make aerial photographs for

charles constant françois marie le roux (1885–1947) Charles Constant François Marie Le Roux was born on 8 June 1885 in Assen. In 1908 he left the Netherlands for the Netherlands East Indies as a 2nd Lieutenant in service of the KNIL, where he participated in different military operations in the first few years of his stay there. Over the course of time, Le Roux specialized in mapping and building important road routes in the outlying districts. On 11 June 1913, he was put at the disposal of the Director of the Civil Public Works (Burgerlijke Openbare Werken). He looked for routes in the Lesser Sunda Islands. In 1915, he was transferred to the island of Flores, where in 1918 he assumed command over the road construction. During his stay on Flores, Le Roux’s interests developed in other directions. Working with Jhr. B.C.C.M. van Suchtelen, he studied the different crater lakes of Mt. Kelimutu. The two of them also mapped the old Portuguese fort on Pulau Ende. But his interest at that time was particularly drawn to the ethnology of the islands of Flores and Solor. Le Roux was an amateur photographer and he took many pictures, both of his own activities and of his ethnological interests.1 In 1920 he returned to the head office in Batavia. Between 1921 and 1927, he was a teacher in technical education and he was affiliated as deputy curator with

the Museum of the Batavian Society. Apart from that he was the secretary of East Indies Committee for Scientific Research and in that capacity came into contact with Matthew Stirling in 1926, who wanted to organize an expedition to the interior of New Guinea. Le Roux took part in the expedition as an ethnologist on the Dutch scientific staff. After his return in 1926, he was given leave in the Netherlands, which he used to strengthen his position within the ethnographic world by working for the Colonial Museum. The ethnographic objects of the expedition were sent to the museum and from there distributed amongst various museums. Le Roux also donated many of his photographs and negatives to the Colonial Institute.2 From 1929 to 1933 Le Roux served as the curator of ethnography and photography at the Museum of the Batavian Society. In 1934, he once again returned to the Netherlands. After serving as curator at the Colonial Museum (January 1934 – July 1935), he became n 1936 the curator of the National Museum of Ethnology in Leiden. In 1939 Le Roux then took part in the large KNAG expedition to the Papuan inhabitants of New Guinea’s central highlands as its expedition leader. Due to the threat of impending

war, this expedition had to be ended prematurely and Le Roux returned to the Netherlands. In acknowledgement of his services, he was made a Knight in the Order of the Netherlands Lion. He became the Director of the Leiden Museum in 1943. Following the war, he served as curator until 1946 and wrote his magnum opus De Bergpapoea’s van Nieuw-Guinea en hun Woongebied, with a special issue of images and plates. He was unable to complete the work himself. He died on 8 September 1947.

102 C.C.F.M. Le Roux, leader of the Central New Guinea Expedition 1939-1940, in Enarotali near Paniai Lake in Central New Guinea Central New Guinea Expedition of the KNAG 1939-1940. Photographer: unknown Gelatin silver print 6.2. x 6.2 cm 1939 60055961. Gift: J. Koen



103 Expedition tinned iron with the stiff rolled aerial negatives together with the KNAG aerial photo album containing the panorama photographic prints from the negatives made during the expedition The Le Roux Expedition 1939. FC-2003-28/ALB-1655 Gift: Koninklijk Nederlands Aardrijkskundig Genootschap (KNAG)


explorations in the region of the Nassau Mountains. At the end of June, practically all participants had arrived in Etna Bay and on 1 July the air transport to the lake region could begin. After that, it took them three weeks to set up a base camp in Enarotali, the new administrative post at Paniai Lake. Several trips were organized in the area, as was a western patrol to the connection points of the Weyland and Charles Louis mountains and a long eastern patrol that went in search of connections to the headwaters of the Rouffaer River where Le Roux stopped during the Stirling expedition in 1926. In August Dr. D. Brouwer, anthropologist and the physician for the expedition, conducted anthroOCEANIA

pological research in the area west of Tigi Lake, which resulted in more than 600 anthropological measurements. Dr. R. IJzerman and Dr. J.P. Eyma conducted geological and botanical research, respectively, initially in the area around Paniai Lake. Later they left on a longer mission to the west. The available aircraft, normally used to bring in supplies, were also used during this month to explore and map the entire expedition area. More than 160 negatives were taken from the aeroplane by the photographer W.M.F. Timmermans. The film was developed and printed in Enarotali and, at the end of August, they sat down to splice the photos together to make long panoramas in order to demarcate the route through the expedition area, especially to the east, which was on the programme for the coming period. The negatives are still a part of the collection at the Tropenmuseum, as are the series of panorama photos put together, now bundled in a large KNAG album. Le Roux, too, went along on one of the reconnaissance flights in beautiful weather and came back to base camp filled with enthusiasm. So it was with great disappointment that Le Roux heard that, due to the increasing worldwide threat of war, the aeroplanes had been called back to Surabaya as of 1 September. That same threat of war led to the geologist of the expedition, Dr. IJzerman, pulling out and returning to the Netherlands. The route of the eastern patrol ran via the Arabu River, over a mountain pass to the Kemabu River and from there over a pass to the Da Delo River, one of the tributaries of the Rouffaer River, which itself runs into the Mamberamo River. On reaching the Da Delo River, Le Roux made a connection with the region around the Upper Rouffaer River, the

104 Aerial photos of the mountainous terrain with the river source area of the Kapare and Bokamau rivers (left), the watershed between the upper reaches of the Arabu valley and the valley of Kemabu (middle) and the plateau landscape north-east of the Carstensz Mountains (right) in Central New Guinea Central New Guinea Expedition of the KNAG 1934-1940. Photographer: W.M.F. Timmermans 26.2 x 10 cm / 32.2 x 11.6 cm / 30.7 x 11.4 cm Gelatin silver print 1939-1940 60046627/28. Gift: Koninklijk Nederlands Aardrijkskundig Genootschap

final destination of his last expedition in 1926. The area was mountainous with peaks reaching 3,000 metres and valleys transected by major rivers that have their source here and run in various directions – to the north coast, the south coast and to Geelvink Bay. It was a heavily populated area with many villages. The Papuans in the Arabu valley were primarily from the Erkari tribe; in the Kemabu valley lived the Moni; further to the east lived primarily the Dani. There was regular contact between the different tribes, as well as rivalry, and sometimes disputes were fought out. Dr. Brouwer was able to take many anthropological measurements. Le Roux focused on coordinating the mapping of the region and gave astronomer M.J.H. Hagdorn and topographer Moh. Saleh various assignments to climb mountains and highland to take astronomical and topographical measurements there. He also visited the Papuan population when possible in order to compile lists of words and to collect ethnographic objects. One by one, the expedition members returned to Enarotali at the beginning of November. The botanical and zoological collections and the ethnographic objects were packed away and registered. In order to transport the collections to the base in Etna Bay, Le Roux was given temporary disposal of the two aircraft again. They transported the collections in a few flights. The expedition split up to take different routes, taking the last measurements on their way, and finally met again in Oeta where, together, they sailed back to Java via Etna Bay.

The Expedition to the Star Mountains (1959) In 1959, the KNAG would send its last large multidisciplinary expedition to one of the few, still uncharted areas in Dutch New Guinea: the Star Mountains, an eastern part of the central mountain ridge that continued over the border into the then Australian part of the island. The expedition to this blank spot on the map was put under the scientific command of the zoologist L.D. Brongersma. The technical command was in the hands of naval officer and pilot G.F. Venema. The circumstances for expeditions into the interior had changed considerably since the previous expedition, but the necessary preconditions had remained the same. The team no longer needed to try to reach the interior via a long river and long exhausting marches during the day. They could now make use of an airfield and a number of landing sites for helicopters which had been built along the proposed expedition route during the years of preparations. Encounters with hostile tribes were also a thing of the past. Even the trappers from Borneo and the convicted prison labourers of the past – now Indonesian citizens that could no longer be recruited for Dutch expeditions – had become obsolete due to the new developments. In their stead, the researchers were accompanied by detachments of Dutch marines, Papuan police officers and a number of medical attendants and local government officials to the top. But regardless of how modern the times had become, the ups and downs of past expeditions remained the same with respect to disease, technical defects, small planning errors and sometimes a pressing shortage of food that, more





105 Two Papuan men with necklaces made of boar’s teeth, New Guinea Star Mountains Expedition 1959. Photographer: possibly L.E. Nijenhuis Glass positive 6.9 x 6.9 cm 1959 10032282. Gift: R. Nijenhuis, 2007 106 Man with a kamil, New Guinea Star Mountains Expedition 1959. Photographer: possibly L.E. Nijenhuis Glass positive 6.9 x 6.9 cm 1959 10032289. Gift: R. Nijenhuis, 2007 107 Head ornament, kamil Club-shaped hair extension hanging over the back made from strips of palm leaf that are tied to the hair and liberally covered with clay. This phallic symbol is worn by eligible bachelors. As soon as they marry, the ornament is removed. Pandanus leaf, clay, paint 53 x 24 cm Star Mountains, Papua, Indonesia Mid 20th century 2817-1. Gift: P.J. Platteel, 1959

easily than in the past, could be solved by supply drops from an aeroplane. The bartering objects they took along to obtain ethnographic objects had also not changed with the times: As a means of exchange we took along beads, buttons to wear on the nose or to string on a necklace, plastic straws to wear through the nose, safety pins as dangling earrings, razor blades, boxes of matches, and tobacco. For small change we used biscuits and as big notes we used knives, machetes, axes and coloured pieces of cloth. 43 Cultural and physical anthropological research was conducted among the inhabitants of the valley of the Sibil, a river that flowed out into the Digul far to the north, and among mountain dwellers in settlements farther to the north. The findings of the research were published in scientific journals and made available to the public at large in an accessible report written by Brongersma and Venema on the entire expedition published in a best-selling popular

book. We must be brief about the ethnographic objects collected: they were placed with the ethnography collection in Leiden, where they were studied and published by the curator of the Pacific collections, who had not taken part in the expedition. 44Photographs that were taken during the expedition are also sparsely present in the Tropenmuseum. The expedition to the Star Mountains is nonetheless mentioned here because a special object obtained during the trip is present in the collection. It concerns a massive, heavy headdress made of red clay that was worn by young eligible Sibil men, hanging over their back. This heavy headdress, kamil, that forms a unit with the hair on the head and which is difficult to remove, has an unmistakable phallic shape. It was given by the leaders of the expedition to Pieter Platteel, the Governor of Dutch New Guinea, who visited Mabilabol, (now Oksibil) the base camp of the expedition, with his wife. Soon after that, Platteel donated this impressive head garment to the Tropenmuseum.