B E R N D T M U S E U M O F A N T H R O P O L O G Y, U N I V E R S I T Y O F W E S T E R N A U S T R A L I A – TAASA Review December 2020


This article was originally found in the December 2020 edition of TAASA Review (Volume 29, Issue 4, Page 22).

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Sofie Nielsen and Michael Houston Tang Dynasty style figure, unknown creator, n.d., China, carved and painted wood, 368 x 107 x 114 mm, bequeathed by R.M and C.H Berndt, Berndt Museum of Anthropology Collection T he Berndt Museum of Anthropology at the University of Western Australia (UWA) holds in trust internationally significant collections of cultural material from Indigenous Australia, Melanesia and Asia.

Much is known of Ronald and Catherine Berndt’s professional contribution to the promotion and preservation of Indigenous Australian cultures through the field of social anthropology, as well as the cultural potency of materials from across Indigenous Australia entrusted to their custodianship.

Less is known regarding their affinity with the cultures of Asia and the breadth of cultural material from that region now held at their namesake museum at UWA. Ronald Berndt in particular was captivated by the diversity of Asian cultures from a young age, acquiring seminal components of the collection as a teenager (Berndt cited in Brittlebank 2008: 58): one early acquisition being a carved polychrome figure in the Tang dynasty style from China, purchased from an Adelaide antique dealer at the age of eighteen...