- Museum number
Helmet of porcupine fish skin, coconut fibre, vegetable fibre and human hair. The body of a porcupine fish has been expanded and made into a helmet. Ear guards are cut from the fish's body and a two-ply twisted coconut fibre tie is used for fastening. Pieces of vegetable fibre and human hair line the front of the helmet.
- Production date
- 19thC (before 1887)
Height: 37.50 centimetres
Width: 31 centimetres
Depth: 23 centimetres
- Curator's comments
Information from Pacific Art in Detail: Kiribati warriors were known for their ferocity. They also had the most fully developed armour in the Pacific. In Kiribati, wars were often fought over an insult, or over territory.
This helmet was most likely collected by Harry's brother John Gould Veitch who made a collection of artefacts as botanist on HMS Curacoa in 1865 (on the same voyage as Julius Brenchley), which Harry gave to the Museum in 1887. The HMS Curacoa did not travel to the Gilbert Islands but it did travel to Fiji and Samoa, where some Kiribati armour has been collected.
It is also possible that it was collected by Harry and John's cousin Peter Veitch who was sent on behalf of the family business to Australia and New Zealand via Fiji 1875-1877. In particular he visited the South Sea Islands between February and September 1876, however, his collection was largely lost off the north coast of Australia while voyaging to New Guinea.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1983–1986 16 Dec-29 Jun, London, BM, Museum of Mankind, Pattern of islands: Micronesia yesterday and today
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- Registration slip reads:
Presented by Harry J. Veitch Esq. 1887
Harry Veitch, head of the horticultural business James Veitch & Sons of Chelsea, gave artefacts to the British Museum deriving from the company's plant collectors in various parts of the world.
- Africa, Oceania and the Americas
- Registration number