NAs 00434

Please find more information about the object below the image.

Producer unknown to us

Figure of a spirit

Asia, Russia, Nanayskiy Rayon, Kile

End of 19th century

Wood, carved

J. F. G. Umlauff (ethnographic dealership)

Purchased by the museum from Umlauff in 1900

NAs 00434

According to many members of the Nanai people, the world is permeated by spirits that influence people's lives to a greater or lesser extent. Figurines like this one were believed to protect the house from the intrusion of evil spirits or diseases (e.g., chest pain).

In 1900, the museum acquired a more extensive collection of objects from the Amur region – including these spirit figurines – from the Hamburg natural history and ethnographica dealer Heinrich C. Umlauff. A vital reference person for young Heinrich was his uncle Carl Hagenbeck, the well-known animal trader, zoo director, and operator of so-called 'Völkerschauen'('Human Ethnographic Exhibition' ). Thus, Heinrich first took over the ethnological section and eventually the entire company of his father. From Hamburg, which had developed into a center of trade in natural history and ethnography during the second half of the 19th century, he and other dealers such as Godeffroy supplied numerous renowned museums worldwide. Among the objects traded may have been 'props' or 'inventory' of human zoos.

Marita Andó