Ethnographic Collections

Alps - Romania - Medio Oriente - Oriente - Africa - America - Oceania


The European Ethnographic collection is divided into a collection from the Alpine Area and one coming from Romania. The first is the result of numerous research campaigns conducted by the Anthropology Institute in the Eastern Alps during which a number of objects of daily use in the lives of the mountain populations have been collected and cataloged. The second is composed of a series of costumes and domestic furnishings. This collection was assembled personally by Professor O. Drimba (responsible for Romanian Language and literature at our University) and donated to Professor Chiarelli and the University by the Romanian Government in 1970. It is accompanied by an extensive photographic documentation.

Middle East

The Middle Eastern Ethnographic collection includes objects from populations of Arabian culture.

Far East

The Far East Ethnographic collection consists of 350 pieces, evidence of Chinese, Japanese and Indonesian civilizations. It includes a rich collection of Chinese musical instruments (percussion, wind instruments, string instruments) that are very old and of high ethnological value; statuettes and objects in jade, many ornamental Chinese objects lacquered in silver or gold or inlaid with mother-of-pearl; numerous Japanese items in ivory, wood and bamboo, all carved, engraved or inlaid in minute detail; cult objects of the most important Asian philosophical and religious concepts; a complete theatre of Javan marionettes accompanied with musical instruments.


The African collection Includes finds coming from the Congo Basin, Ethiopia, Equatorial Africa (Turkana) and Nigeria. The collection from the Congo Basin includes more than 1000 objects from different populations such as Pygmies, Congolese, Sudanese. Of particular interest for their ritual as well as practical significance is the collection of arms. The Ethiopian collection is composed of few objects (arms, shields, leather sandals, mats made of plant fibre) but it is sufficient to define with its most characteristic elements a type of culture that is predominately pastoral. The collection from Equatorial Africa includes musical instruments, arms and shields in various shapes, a headdress with ostrich plumes (worn by men) and a leather dress (usually worn by women) This collection comes from the Turkana group (Southern Nilotic) with a predominately pastoral economy.


The collections include finds belonging to North American Indians and the Inuit of Alaska.
These come from a cave in Santo Domingo (found at the end of the 19th Century). It is the only West Indian “zemi” in cotton from the precolombian period that exists in the world. It is linked to the cult of ancestors of the Taino population.
The South American collections include those from Botocudos in the state of Santa Caterina (East coast of Brazil), of the South American Chaco and Bororo (South West area of Mato Grosso).


The most typical examples in this collection are the “tapa”, a cloth obtained by soaking and beating tree bark. The collection also includes a long fishing net, a tambourine in wood and leather, two funeral masks, wooden containers and trays.