Kaiky Muncherjee (Biographical details)

Kaiky Muncherjee (collector; merchant/tradesman; Indian; Male; 1873 - 1955)

Also known as

Muncherjee, Kaiky; Muncherjee, Kaiki; Muncherjee, Kayki

Biography

Parsi Indian trader resident in Aden who developed a very large collection of ancient South Arabian antiquities in the opening decades of the 20th century, a large portion of which was purchased by the Aden Government shortly after his death. Prior to that he is said to have offered it for sale, either in whole or in part, to "an American museum" for $100,000 (according to Wendell Phillips, 'Qataban and Sheba', 1955, p.111) and apparently to other individuals. Gerald Lankester Harding began the task of registering and photographing the pre-Islamic antiquities in this acquired collection during his stay in Aden in 1959/60 as part of his archaeological survey of the Aden Protectorates, and he acquired two bronze lion-head fittings during this period which were later donated to the British Museum in 2012 by M.C.A. Macdonald (q.v.). Some pieces entered other collections. One was acquired by the British Museum in 1970 from the previous collection of a Wing-Commander Rickard (q.v.); another entered the collection of A.F.L. Beeston (q.v.) who bequeathed it to the British Museum through M.C.A. Macdonald (q.v.): yet another ex-Muncherjee collection object was acquired by the Metropolitan Museum of Art (q.v.). This may be explained by the fact that, as early as the 1920s, this collection appears to have been offered for sale. To this end, a series of photographs were taken of pieces in the collection and first published in 1923. These were then assembled into three albums. The first of these was known as the Album Rome [AlbR] after being assembled for the collector le Duc des Abruzzes, and the second as the Album Kammerer [AlbK]after A. Kammerer; these were certainly in existence by May 1925 and circulated amongst a very small circle of specialists, namely C. Conti Rossini (citing AlbR) and J.A. Jaussen (citing AlbK). The third album, simply known as the Album Muncherjee [AlbM], was assembled over a longer period and constituted an abridged selection of the most important pieces, but was cited by a slightly wider circle of specialists, including H. von Wissmann, J.H. Mordtmann and G. Mittwoch. Copies of this third album also circulated among some North American museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (q.v.). The primary purpose of these albums was to facilitate the sale of the collection, as illustrated by the cover of the third album: "A marvellous collection of rare, authentic, genuine, ancient, Hymarites & Sabeans [sic] antiques, of ancient Southern Arabia ... Open for wholesale sale". An edited edition of the third album was published in 1955 by Albert Jamme, entitled "Les albums photographiques de la collection Kaiky Muncherjee (Aden)" (Rome: G. Bardi; Studi orientali pubblicati a cura della Sculoa Orientale, v.3).

Bibliography

Wendell Phillips, 'Qataban and Sheba. Exploring Ancient Kingdoms on the Biblical Spice Routes of Arabia', London: Victor Gollancz, 1955 (p.111).