Photography of The Taiaha
A few weeks ago Chris and I began photographing the Lihir collection. I am proud to say that even with the challenge of photographing 8 foot long spears we have finally finished. Just because we have finished this collection, however, it does not mean we are done with photography. The ultimate goal is to have a digital picture of every object in the anthropology collections and availible to the public--so you can look at what we have in our storerooms while sitting comfortably at home, or so a visiting researcher can look at what she or he is interested in before arriving at the museum. This dream is still in the distant future, but we are doing are part by photographing what we can.
The next set of objects Chris and I are photographing is the Taiaha spears used by the Maori of New Zealand. There are about 73 of these spears in the collections, and we have photogrphed about 50 of these spears so far. Luckily, overall pictures of the objects already exsist so we only need to do detail shots. This means that we are only focusing on the spear point where beautiful designs have been carved into the wood. Most of these spear come equipped with 2 blueish-green eyes on each side of the spear head made of abalone shell. These eyes sparkle and glow as our lights exagerate strange shawdows around the spear point. Most of these spears are sitting on tables waiting to be put away within the storeroom. The 55 or so spears that are not properly stored have been on tables since I arrived at the beginning of the summer. I am very excited to be assisting in getting them safely into the sotrage units where they belong.
Spears are not the easiest of objects to store, but the Field Museum has created a simple way that does not take up much space. The spears are stored upright and attached to grids that pull straight out from the storage bays; much like a sliding door. Velcro that is connected to a foam cushion holds the spears upright on these sliding panels. Tuesday I assisted in making these velcro attachments, and we now have all the equipment we need to get these spears into a storage unit. Hopefully Chris and I will finish up photographing the Taiaha today and begin to attach them this week.