- Museum number
- Object: Samoan tattoo, male.
Drawing; image of a male torso and legs, those of Simi Vajusu; front and back, and one leg from the side, showing tattoos. July, 1950.
- Production date
- July 1950
Height: 76 centimetres
Width: 92 centimetres
- Curator's comments
- Letter from Groves 3/9/1949 (c/- Lloyds Bank, Market Place, Nottingham) to Adrian Digby of British Museum notes:
'I have been living in Samoa for some time and latterly I have been making studies of the Samoan Tattoo (PE'A). These drawings are full size measured drawings taken directly from the male Samoan native's body and show all the irregularities of the artists work in its execution. I rather think they are the only ones of their kind in existence and although the New Zealand Government might have like them, not being myself a N. Zealander, I preferred to bring them home in the first place'.
Unpublished handwritten MS by Groves (in Eth Doc 1146) is dated April 1952, and is titled 'Notes on the Samoan Tattoo (PE'A) by J.W. Groves of Nottingham, England. With original diagrams and illustrations by the author. The MS includes a dedication to 'J.B.J.R. The only one in Samoa who showed any interest or gave me an encouragement in a thankless task.'. 'All the illustrations and diagrams in this book are the copyright of the author. SAMOA 1949-1952'.
- Not on display
- Paper yellowing, attached to acidic board.
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- Eth Doc 146 includes letter from Keeper at BM, dated 28/11/1949 to Chief Secretary, Apia, Samoa noted Mr J W Groves had recently submitted drawings of Samoan tattoing to the British Museum and BM was seeking support of Chief Secretary for this work to continue on Groves' return to Samoa.
Letter from Groves to Mr Braunholtz of British Museum 24/12/1949: 'I am very glad the drawings have been appreciated...I can supply general information about all the models who have been through my hands'.
Letter from Groves to Mr Braunholtz 17/7/1950: 'The authorities are not the least bit interested in my drawings and I am not able to get what I was hoping for, that is help, in compiling some systematic record.
I have however found one or two of my earlier models and I have been able to do some better work on them to replace those you have on brown paper which I do not think are sufficiently good standard for a permanent record. I will either post these eventually or I think it would be better to bring them to England when I come next year as I hope to do.
I have also some others but I can only say...there is nothing nowadays of any meaning in them they are merely done if the man fancies it and can pay, but mine are of course the only drawings of their kind in the world...The Samoans nowadays can only draw upon their own imaginations now if asked about the matter'.
- Africa, Oceania and the Americas
- Registration number