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Changing Contexts, Shifting MeaningsTransformations of Cultural Traditions in Oceania$
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Elfriede Hermann

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780824833664

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824833664.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM HAWAII SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.hawaii.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Hawaii University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in HSO for personal use.date: 19 September 2021

A Tale of Three Time Travelers

A Tale of Three Time Travelers

Maintaining Relationships, Exploring Visual Technologies

(p.296) A Tale of Three Time Travelers
Changing Contexts, Shifting Meanings

Karen L. Nero

University of Hawai'i Press

This chapter traces the stories of three late eighteenth-century Palauan treasures that are now held in the British Museum: a large shell-inlaid bird-shaped wooden bowl, a shell-inlaid canoe, and an oil painting of three Palauans. These pieces were given, transferred, or commissioned during Honourable East India Company ship visits—Captain Henry Wilson's first extended visit to Palau in 1783 and Captain John McCluer's return visits in 1791–1795. For the Paluans, these objects refer to exchange relationships between their ancestors and British voyagers of the time; moreover, they are still used today to maintain interchanges between the Belau National Museum and the British Museum. The treasures also represent ancestral knowledge, which may well serve as a reference for fashioning present-day Palauan identities. This again demonstrates that it is social interactions then and now, as well as imaginative interactions between past and present, that lead to the creative arrangement of shifting meanings in changing contexts.

Keywords:   Palauan artifacts, British Museum, exchange relationships, Palau, Belau National Museum, cultural exchange, ancestral knowledge, social interactions

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