[EASTER ISLAND] The Mana Expedition, 1914 -15 : an archive of 27 photographic glass slides
[William Scoresby Routledge; Katherine Routledge]
AN IMPORTANT PHOTOGRAPHIC RECORD OF THE FIRST ARCHAEOLOGICAL EXPEDITION TO EASTER ISLAND (RAPA NUI).
Twenty-seven photographic glass magic lantern slides taken on the Mana Expedition to Easter Island during 1914-15, including images of Easter Island statues, carvings and landscapes, approximately 80 x 80 mm each, all with the maker's label of H.L. Toms, Victoria Street, London and a descriptive manuscript label (sometimes numbered). Two of the slides have a single crack; otherwise, condition is uniformly excellent, with no chips or other flaws. William Scoresby Routledge donated a set of glass magic lantern slides documenting his archaeological expedition to Easter Island to the British Museum in 1925. The slides we offer here are possibly personal copies of an expedition member, as one of the slides bears a caption 'Self and fallen image'.
The Mana Expedition, responsible for the first full scale archaeological survey to be conducted of Easter Island, was co-led by the husband and wife team of Australian-born ethnographer and anthropologist William Scoresby Routledge (1859-1939) and British archaeologist Katherine Routledge (1866-1935). The expedition was self-financed (even to the extent that the couple built their own yacht, the Mana), and arrived at Easter Island from England early in 1914, remaining there for the next seventeen months, documenting the material culture of the remote island - the mysterious, giant stone Moai statues, petroglyphs and carved wooden figures, many of which are regarded as masterpieces of Polynesian artistic expression.
Katherine Routledge was principally responsible for the bulk of the archaeological fieldwork, but also recorded oral histories and Rapa Nui genealogies. She notes in her book on the expedition, The mystery of Easter Island : the story of an expedition (London : Sifton, Praed & Co Ltd, 1919), that the expedition hired the services of a photographer, but does not explicitly name this person. Katherine's original field notes, along with plans drawn of archaeological sites by the expedition surveyor, Lieutenant Ritchie, were recovered by chance in 1961 after being lost for decades.
William Routledge ultimately played a lesser role in the expedition, as he was forced to spend some of the time in Chile on diplomatic business after the outbreak of the war had seen the presence of German naval vessels in Chilean-owned Easter Island waters violate Chile's neutral status.
The next visit by an archaeological research team to visit Easter Island would not be until the Franco-Belgian expedition of 1934-35, led by Lavachery and Métraux. There seems little doubt that the slides we offer here belong to the Routledges' expedition and not to the mid 1930s, but primary photographic documentation of either of these two expeditions is of immense importance to the study of Rapa Nui culture in particular, and Polynesian culture in general.
List of manuscript captions:
Carved wooden Image. Easter Isd. [ ]
Fallen Image. Easter Id. [ ]
Image. Easter Island. [ ]
Images. Easter Id. [ ]
Removal of stones. 19. (crack)
Map of Easter Island or Rapa Nui. 137A.
Party. Easter Id. 138.
Mr. Edmund. Easter Id. 139.
On the way to Rana Roraka. Easter Id. 140.
Images. Easter Id. 141.
Image. Easter Island. 142.
Images. Easter Id. 143.
Fallen Image. Easter Id. 144.
Image. Easter Id. 144A.
Self & Fallen Image. Easter Id. 145.
Camp. Rana Roraka Volcano. Easter Id. 146.
Camp at Rana Roraka Volcano. Easter Isd. [ ]
In crater. Rana Roraka Vol. Easter Id. [ ]
Half carved Image. Easter Id. 147.
Half carved image. Easter Id. 148.
Unfinished Image. Easter Island. 149.
Carved Rocks. Easter Id. 150A.
Birdman Rks. Orongo. Easter Id. 150B.
Birdman Rk. Easter Id. 151.
Images. Easter Id. [ ]
[Landscape]. [ ]
Easter Id. Image. [ ] (crack)