“Maclay Coast” exhibition project

The “Maclay Coast” exhibition includes:

  • “Maclay Coast” small scale prototype, constructed in accordance with the archive materials, which demonstrates the first historical meet of the Russian scientist and the indigenous inhabitants of the New Guinea Island
  • Photos and copies of drawings showing the history of relations that began with the expeditions of N.N. Miklouho-Maclay in 1871
  • N. Miklouho-Maclay’s expedition costume of the XIX century (replica)
  • Items of material culture of New Guinea (bow, arrows, drum, etc.) of high historical and cultural value

On 3 October (Gregorian) 20 September (Julian) 1871, N.N. Miklouho-Maclay for the first time set foot onto the northeastern coast of New Guinea (Maclay Coast), where no european had ever set foot. Then the researcher made two more expeditions to these places (in 1876-1877 and 1883). Miklouho-Maclay has become a friend to the indigenous inhabitants of the New Guinea villages (Gorendu, Bongu, Gumbu), learned their language, established good relations with them, and actively conducted ethnographic and anthropological research. N.N. Miklouho-Maclay diaries still remain an unsurpassed source on the ethnography of New Guinea.

N.N. Miklouho-Maclay’s hut was located at the Garagassi Point (Mys Uyedineniya), so that location seemed quite convenient to the Russian scientist because of the proximity to water, privacy, and close to the path connecting the Maclay Coast villages. Miklouho-Maclay tried to communicate with the indigenous people, people of the so-called “stone age”, who did not know what iron was, with respect for their culture and way of life.

Upon arrival on the northeastern coast of New Guinea, the scientist decided to go to one of the villages to get to know the inhabitants better. Despite the fact that the Russian scientist did not know how he would be received, he decided to go there unarmed, because he had good intentions. As Miklouho-Maclay walked into the village, he was met by a group of the villagers armed with spears and bows. Even two arrows were winged towards the scientist! In order to make the indigenous people sure in his peaceful intentions, Miklouho-Maklay expressed no aggression, but brought a wicker mat there, laid down and fell asleep. After sleeping for 2 and a half hours and opening his eyes, he saw several villagers sitting around the mat. They were looking at him not sullenly, but on the contrary, very surprised.

The inhabitants of the Maclay Coast treated the Russian scientist as a deified spirit of their ancestors. One day, two local men once again came to the hut of N.N. Miklouho-Maclay, and he decided “to make an experiment with their impressionability”. The researcher took a saucer from under a cup of tea, poured water into it, drank a little himself and gave it to one of the men, who also checked if it was water. Then he poured a few drops of alcohol into the water on the saucer and lighted it up, after which the New Guineans opened their mouths, raised their eyebrows, retreated a few steps, and then ran away to the village. Then they came back, but this time with the inhabitants of the neighbour villages. They begged him to show how “water burns”. When Miklouho-Maclay repeated that trick, most of them ran away, pleading the Russian scientist “not to light up the sea”. When the tension subsided, the New Guineans, after such a spectacle, would tirelessly invited the traveler to their villages.

“It is strange, but almost all the inhabitants of the coast do not know any way to make fire, so they always and everywhere carry burning or smoldering brands with them<…> when I asked them about this, they possibly did not understand my question and even found it funny. They said that if one’s fire goes out, then another one does have it; if there is no fire in the whole village, then another village does have it,” – N.N. Miklouho-Maclay notes in his expedition diaries. To this day, the inhabitants of the Maclay Coast make fire the same way as they did many hundred years ago.

Almost a century and a half has passed since the expeditions of Miklouho-Maclay to the distant New Guinea Island. The material collected by the Russian humanist scientist is still relevant to science and everyday life. Residents of the Maclay Coast cherish the memory of N.N. Miklouho-Maclay, who all his life was adherent to the principles of respect for the culture and traditions of the peoples of the world.

Visit the exhibition at the Historical park “Russia – my history” in order to know more about the unique expeditions and research of N.N. Miklouho-Maclay in New Guinea.

Address: 32 Basseynaya Str., Saint-Petersburg, Russia.

Call for group excursions: +7-812-617-00-90

N.N. Miklouho-Maclay’s expedition costume of the XIX century (replica)

“Maclay Coast” collection. Photos from the exhibition.

As a result of the research expedition in 2017, the collections of the Kunstkamera were replenished with 16 items, the Anuchin Antropologic Museum MSU – with 1 item, the Museum of the World Ocean – with 1 subject. The 42 exhibits are a private collection of Nickolay Nikolaevich Miklouho-Maclay Jr.

Collection of the material culture items of the Maclay Coast inhabitants.

Here are some photos and a brief description of the items collected in Papua New Guinea on the Maclay Coast (now it is called Rai coast, the North-East coast of the New Guinea island, Madang province), in villages Gorendu, Bongu and Gumbu in September 2017, during the expedition “Miklouho-Maclay. XXI century. Maclay Coast”. The expedition, conducted by Miklouho-Maclay, was organized by the “Miklouho-Maclay Foundation for the Preservation of Ethnocultural Heritage”. with the expert and information support of the Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography (Kunstkamera) of RAS; of the Miklouho-Maclay Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology of RAS; of MSU named after M. V. Lomonosov Faculty of History; of MSU Museum of Anthropology named after M. V. Lomonosov, and of the other organizations and institutions.

1. Dish “Doru”.


Material: wood.

Technique: carving.

Dimensions: l. 31,5; w. 11,8.

Origin: late XX century (used in everyday life by four generations).

Place of origin: Gorendu village.

Territory of use:

Practical use: as a tableware during feasts; the subject of exchange for something of value; the bride price; during the wedding ceremony.

Condition: satisfactory.

Analog Collection MAE RAS: 168-29.

2. Dish “Tabir”.


Material: wood.

Technique: carving.

Dimensions: l. 35,4; w. 11,0.

Origin: late XX century (used in everyday life by four generations).

Place of origin: Gorendu village.

Territory of use:

Practical use: as a tableware during feasts; the subject of exchange for something of value; the bride price; during the wedding ceremony.

Condition: satisfactory.

Analog Collection MAE RAS: 168-29.

3. Cooking pot “Vab”.


Material: clay.

Technique: pottery.

Dimensions: h. 7,9; neck d. 5,5.

Origin: 2016-2017.

Place of origin: Bili-Bili village (Northeastern Coast of New Guinea island).

Territory of use: Gorendu village.

Practical use: in household for cooking.

Condition: crack, a piece split off, fragment separately.

Analog Collection MAE RAS: none.

4. Bullroarer “Lyop-lyop”.


Material: wood, paint.

Technique: carving, painting.

Dimensions: l. 13,8; w. 2.

Origin: early XXI century.

Place of origin: Gorendu village.

Time of use: 2017.

Practical use: male costume accessories during initiation.

Condition: satisfactory.

Analog Collection MAE RAS: 168-36.

5. Bullroarer “Lyop-lyop”.


Material: wood, paint.

Technique: carving, painting.

Dimensions: l. 9,8; w. 1,4.

Origin: early XXI century.

Place of origin: Gorendu village.

Time of use: 2017.

Practical use: male costume accessories during initiation.

Condition: satisfactory.

Analog Collection MAE RAS: 168-36.

6. Bullroarer “Lyop-lyop”.


Material: wood, paint.

Technique: carving, painting.

Dimensions: l. 10,6; w. 1,6.

Origin: early XXI century.

Place of origin: Gorendu village.

Time of use: 2017.

Practical use: male costume accessories during initiation.

Condition: satisfactory.

Analog Collection MAE RAS: 168-36.

7. Bracelet “Sagiu”.


Material: plant fiber.

Technique: weaving.

Dimensions: d. 3,9; w. 1,8.

Origin: first decade of XXI century (approx. 2007).

Place of origin: Gorendu village.

Time of use: 2017.

Practical use: male and female festive costume accessory.

Condition: satisfactory.

Source: I-2085-40 (Miklouho-Maclay’s drawing, a portrait of a Papuan with ornaments).

Analog Collection MAE RAS: 168-17.

8. Bracelet “Sagiu”.


Material: plant fiber.

Technique: weaving.

Dimensions: d. 3,9; w. 1,8.

Origin: first decade of XXI century (approx. 2007).

Place of origin: Gorendu village.

Time of use: 2017.

Practical use: male and female festive costume accessory.

Condition: satisfactory.

Source: I-2085-40 (Miklouho-Maclay’s drawing, a portrait of a Papuan with ornaments).

Analog Collection MAE RAS: 168-17.

9. Bag “Khun”.


Material: plant fiber.

Technique: weaving, knitting.

Dimensions: 3,5; t. 1,8.

Origin: 2017.

Place of origin: Gorendu village.

Time of use: 2017.

Practical use: in everyday life for bearing personal things. Men wear over the shoulder, women tend to throw a strap on the forehead.

Condition: satisfactory.

Analog Collection MAE RAS: 168-8.

10. Bag “Khun”.


Material: plant fiber.

Technique: weaving, knitting.

Dimensions: w. 17,7; l. 13,8.

Origin: 2017.

Place of origin: Gorendu village.

Time of use: 2017.

Practical use: in everyday life for bearing personal things. Men wear over the shoulder, women tend to throw a strap on the forehead.

Condition: satisfactory.

Analog Collection MAE RAS: 168-8.

11. Bag “Khun”.


Material: plant fiber.

Technique: weaving, knitting.

Dimensions: w. 17,7; l. 13,8.

Origin: 2017.

Place of origin: Gorendu village.

Time of use: 2017.

Practical use: in everyday life for bearing personal things. Men wear over the shoulder, women tend to throw a strap on the forehead.

Condition: satisfactory.

Analog Collection MAE RAS: 168-8.

12. Women’s skirt “Mal” (“Nai”).


Material: plant fiber (coconut bark, plants).

Technique: soaking, splitting.

Dimensions: l. 17,7.

Origin: early XX century.

Place of origin: Gorendu village.

Time of use: 2017.

Practical use: a part of female traditional festive costume.

Condition: satisfactory.

Analog Collection MAE RAS: 168-22, 168-24.

13. Knife of cassowary bone.


Material: cassowary bone.

Technique: cutting (sharpening).

Dimensions: 11,8.

Origin: the second decade of XXI century (approx. 2014-2015).

Place of origin: Gorendu village.

Time of use: 2017.

Condition: satisfactory.

Analog Collection MAE RAS: 168-14 

14. Knife of cassowary bone.


Material: cassowary bone.

Technique: cutting (sharpening).

Dimensions: 13,8.

Origin: the second decade of XXI century (approx. 2014-2015).

Place of origin: Gorendu village.

Time of use: 2017.

Condition: satisfactory.

Analog Collection MAE RAS : 168-14 .

15. Chest ornament “Bul-ra”.


Material: boar tusks, plant fiber.

Technique: binding.

Dimensions: w. 4,3.

Origin: the second decade of XXI century (approx. 2014-2015).

Place of origin: Gorendu village.

Time of use: 2017.

Practical use: male traditional festive costume accessory

Condition: satisfactory.

Analog Collection MAE RAS: 168-5.

16. Chest ornament.


Material: boar tusks, plant fiber, seashells.

Technique: weaving.

Dimensions: l. 10,6; tusks w. 7,9.

Origin: the second decade of XXI century (approx. 2014-2015).

Place of origin: Gorendu village.

Time of use: 2017.

Practical use: male festive costume accessory. Like a gubo-gubo, but without seashells on the sides.

Condition: good.

Source: I-2085-40 (Miklouho-Maclay’s drawing, a portrait of a Papuan with ornaments).

Analog Collection MAE RAS: none.

17. Headband with feathers.


Material: plant fiber, seashells, feathers.

Technique: weaving.

Dimensions: w. 1; feather l. 10,6.

Origin: the second decade of XXI century (approx. 2014-2015).

Place of origin: Gorendu village.

Time of use: 2017.

Practical use: male festive costume accessory.

Condition: good.

Analog Collection MAE RAS: none.

18. Headband with seashells.


Material: plant fiber, seashells.

Technique: weaving.

Dimensions: w. 1; l. 12,6.

Origin: early XXI century.

Place of origin: Gorendu village.

Time of use: 2017.

Practical use: male festive costume accessory.

Condition: seashells on one of the threads are movable, fixing required.

Analog Collection MAE RAS: none.

19. Necklace


Material: boar tusks.

Technique: stringing.

Dimensions: w. 6,3.

Origin: the second decade of XXI century (approx. 2014-2015).

Place of origin: Gorendu village.

Time of use: 2017.

Practical use: male festive costume accessory.

Condition: satisfactory.

Analog Collection MAE RAS: none.

21. Tapa belt.


Material: phloem.

Technique: beating.

Dimensions: l. 55,1; w. 17,7-5,9.

Origin: the second decade of XXI century (approx. 2014-2015).

Place of origin: Gorendu village.

Time of use: 2017.

Practical use: male festive costume accessory.

Condition: satisfactory.

Analog Collection MAE RAS: none.

22. Drum “Okam”.


Material: wood, lizard skin.

Technique: carving.

Dimensions: l. 23,6; d. at the edge 5,5.

Origin: early XXI century.

Place of origin: Gorendu village.

Time of use: 2017.

Practical use: musical percussion instrument, holyday attribute.

Condition: membrane absence, abraded, loss of paint layer, the hoop is movable.

Analog Collection MAE RAS: 168-55.

23. Stirrer


Material: wood.

Technique: carving.

Dimensions: l. 21,3; w. 1,6.

Origin: the second decade of XXI century (approx. 2014-2015).

Place of origin: Gorendu village.

Time of use: 2017.

Practical use: utensil for cooking.

Condition: satisfactory.

Analog Collection MAE RAS: none.

24. Drum “Barum” model (the main signal drum in the village).


Material: wood.

Technique: carving.

Dimensions: l. 8,7; w. 2,4.

Origin: early XXI century.

Place of origin: Gorendu village.

Time of use: 2017.

Practical use: decoration, souvenir for tourists.

Condition: good.

Analog Collection MAE RAS none.

25. Bow.


Material: wood, plant fiber.

Technique: carving.

Dimensions: l. 55,1 assembled.

Origin: early XXI century.

Place of origin: Gorendu village.

Time of use: 2017.

Practical use: hunting, including fish hunting with special arrows.

Condition: good.

Analog Collection MAE RAS 168-45.

26. Arrows.


Material: cane, wood.

Technique: carving.

Dimensions: l. 23,6 for fish hunting; 27,6 for animal and birds hunting.

Origin: the second decade of XXI century (approx. 2014-2015).

Place of origin: Gorendu village.

Time of use: 2017.

Practical use: fish hunting.

Condition: good.

Analog Collection MAE RAS  168-46, 47, 48.

27. Rod.


Material: wood, paint, feathers.

Technique: carving, painting.

Dimensions: h. 55,1.

Origin: early XXI century.

Place of origin: Gorendu village.

Time of use: 2017.

Practical use: holiday attribute. Community leader bears during the festive processions or dances.

Condition: good.

Analog Collection MAE RAS none.

28. Bowl.


Material: plant fiber.

Technique: weaving.

Dimensions: d. 9,8.

Origin: the second decade of XXI century (approx. 2014-2015).

Place of origin: Gorendu village.

Time of use: 2017.

Practical use: household utensil.

Condition: good.

Analog Collection MAE RAS none.

29. Bamboo planks with pattern.


Material: wood.

Technique: carving, painting.

Dimensions: l. 8,3; w. 4,5.

Origin: early XXI century.

Place of origin: Gorendu village.

Time of use: 2017.

Practical use: used as a hut internal decoration.

Condition: satisfactory.

Analog Collection MAE RAS none.

30. Male comb.


Material: wood, wool fiber.

Technique: carving, winding.

Dimensions: l. 11,4; w. 1,6.

Origin: the second decade of XXI century (approx. 2014-2015).

Place of origin: Gorendu village.

Time of use: 2017.

Practical use: female festive costume accessory.

Condition: good.

Source: gift of Jaboy Tui, the descendant of Tui (the first Papuan to meet Miklouho-Maclay in 1871, and a friend).

Analog Collection MAE RAS none.

31. Bag.


Material: kangaroo wool.

Technique: weaving, knitting.

Dimensions: w. 17,7; h. 13,8.

Origin: 2017.

Place of origin: East Sepik province.

Time of use: 2017.

Practical use: in everyday life for bearing personal things. Men wear over the shoulder, women tend to throw a strap on the forehead.

Condition: good.

Obtained in flea market in Madang. Prohibited for export and sale in 2017 in PNG.

Analog Collection MAE RAS  168-8.

32. Simbi necklace.


Material: plant fiber, dog fangs, seashells, beads, plant fruits.

Technique: stringing.

Dimensions: l.2 fangs.

Origin: the second decade of XXI century (approx. 2014-2015).

Place of origin: Gorendu village, the symbol of the village.

Time of use: 2017.

Practical use: male festive costume accessory.

Condition: satisfactory.

Source: I-2085-40 (Miklouho-Maclay’s drawing, a portrait of a Papuan with ornaments).

Analog Collection MAE RAS none.

The participants of the expedition managed to bring to Russia a unique collection of objects of material culture and rituals. Most of the items in this collection are similar to those items collected by N. N. Miklouho-Maclay in the region in XIX century. It was the first and unique collection of material culture of the inhabitants of the region up to 2017. Each item of the modern collection was in household use before being fitted into the collection – it is confirmed by reliable photos, videos and history diaries which allow tracing the history. The items, of course, are of the historical and cultural value of the world scale. Photographic materials confirm that such items are used in everyday life of the locals, in most cases, to this day. Extensive documentary material collected during the expedition, will help to reveal the history of each collection item.

The items were given by the family of the descendants of Tui (the first resident, an ethnic Papuan, to contact with N. N. Miklouho-Maclay in XIX century) living in Gorendu village and by Bongu, Gumbu and Gorendu villagers during the farewell ceremony with the expedition.