O'MALLEY, J.T. (James Thomas), 1875-1942
[NEW GUINEA] An important archive of ethnographic photographs taken by J.T. O’Malley, Resident Magistrate, Central Division, Territory of Papua, circa 1930
Thirty-one gelatin silver print photographs, in uniform format 165 x 120 mm, unmounted; three are inscribed in the negative with the initials of the photographer ‘J.T. O’M’ [i.e. James Thomas O’Malley]; printed on glossy and matte paper; the photographs are in very good condition, with no foxing, creasing or tears.
The Australian civil servant J.T. O’Malley spent a large part of his career in Port Moresby, where he was Resident Magistrate for Central Division and later, Commissioner of the Department for Native Affairs. O’Malley was the uncle of famous patrol officer and explorer Louis James (Jim) O’Malley (1912-1975), who arrived in Papua in 1929 while his uncle was still a leading administrator in the Territory of Papua.
With the exception of a handful of topographical views, this archive of photographs taken by J.T. O’Malley in southeastern New Guinea is comprised of striking portraits of Motu men and women. Many illustrate the beautiful and elaborate Motu tattoo designs; two are rare images of tattooing being performed. There are also portraits of Motu families, male dancers ready to perform at a sing-sing, native constabulary, and village scenes.
A significant photographic record of New Guinea under Australian administration.