Here are five items not to be missed in the collection.
Pahoa (Dagger) of Swordfish Reputed to Be the One Which Killed Cook c. 1779
swordfish Hooper Collection, Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum, Honolulu, 1977.206.013
Photo by Jesse W. Stephen, copyright © Bishop Museum, 2018; Bishop Museum Archives
Though eyewitness accounts record that Cook was killed by an iron dagger, stories persist that a carved swordfish-bill dagger was used.
Cook’s Box of Instruments c. 1750
wood, engraved brass, glass, letterpress
National Library of Australia, Rex Nan Kivell Collection (Pictures) nla.cat-vn2640976
This set of instruments includes a sundial for telling the time, a spirit level, a compass and an astrolabe. It was used by Cook as early as the 1750s.
Chief Mourner’s Costume from the Society Islands 1700s
shell, plant fibre
Collection of the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, FE000336
Gift of Lord St Oswald, 1912
In the rituals that followed the death of a Society Islands chief, the ‘chief mourner’ (usually a relative of the deceased) would rage around the village, accompanied by attendants, scaring all who crossed his path. On 10 June 1769, Joseph Banks was allowed to participate, playing the role of one of the attendants. This chief mourner’s costume is one of at least 10 collected on Cook’s second Pacific voyage. Highly valuable, they were made of rare materials by an expert craftsperson.
James Cook (1728–1779)
Journal of HMB Endeavour 1768–71
Manuscripts Collection, National Library of Australia
Inscribed on the UNESCO Memory of the World Register, 2001, nla.cat-vn3525402
This is the journal Lieutenant James Cook kept on the Endeavour voyage. It is in Cook’s own handwriting and is today considered a foundational treasure of the National Library of Australia. It is still a draft, though a fair copy, with crossings-out and amendments, which show careful rethinking and reworking by Cook.
William Hodges (1744–1797)
Portrait of Tynai-mai, Princess of Ra’iatea c. 1773
National Library of Australia, Pictures Collection nla.cat-vn2055286
Tynai-mai was a Ra’iatean princess. In his voyage account, naturalist Georg Forster described her in this way: ‘Her eyes were full of fire and expression, and an agreeable smile sat in her round face. Mr Hodges took this opportunity of drawing a sketch of her portrait, which her vivacity and restless disposition rendered almost impossible.’
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