Travel the World Big Saturday: Guest Blog by Sajia Sultana

Travel the World Big Saturday was held on Saturday 2nd of August between 11am and 4pm. The day involved families travelling back in time and across the globe. Families enjoyed world music performances, met curators and saw objects from the museum’s collections and created musical shakers.

Here are the various music performances which were held during the day. Upon arrival families enjoyed Chinese music performances on traditional instruments, the Erhu and the Guzheng. This was performed by Henry Fung and Mei Mei Wu.

1Families then enjoyed African Storytelling with Chanje Kunda from Zambia. The stories included fables which illustrated to the children how to stay safe. The children also played with African toys and fabrics.


Our journey continued to Northern India with Kanchan Maradan who performed the Kathak dance. The word Kathak is derived from ‘Katha’ meaning the ‘the art of storytelling’.


In the afternoon families travelled to Iran with Arian Sadr to enjoy Iranian Frame Drumming.


At the end of the journey families had a chance to participate in the traditional Chinese Fan Dance (which resembles a field of butterflies) with Mei-Mei Wu.



You can see some of the performances in the film below:

Children and adults were asked to describe their day at Manchester Museum in one word. Here are their comments:

‘Splendid’ ‘Amazing’ ’Interactive’ ‘Interesting’ ‘Educational’ ’Extraordinary’ Excellent’ ’Brilliant’ ‘Illuminating’ ’Exciting’ ‘Fascinating’ ‘Inspiring’ ’Great’

Visit the following link to find out more about Big Saturday:

Visit our page on Facebook Global Explorer:

Sajia Sultana is a Summer Public Programmes Intern at Manchester Museum and a University of Manchester student.

Mythical Hound or Designer Dog? The Story of the Irish Wolfhound

On 4 November 2012 The Sunday Times reported that the Irish Kennel Club (IKC) wanted the Irish government to give special protection to the country’s native dog breeds ( ). Amongst the breeds mentioned were the Glen of Imaal terrier, the Irish beagle, the Kerry Blue terrier, but special attention was given to the Irish wolfhound.  Sean Delmar, the President of the IKC, stated that this breed had been ‘kept by the Irish for centuries’ and along with the other dogs should be ‘afforded protection as symbols of our national heritage’.  A recent issue of the IKC magazine stated that the origins of the dog ‘stretch back into the mists of Irish time’.

Irish wolfhound as displayed in the exhibition Breed: The British and their Dogs, Manchester Museum. The taxidermy specimen is on loan from the Natural History Museum, London. 2012.

 The Irish wolfhound is one of the breeds featured in Manchester Museum’s exhibition on Breed: The British and their Dogs which opened last month and runs until 14 April 2013.  The exhibition draws on a project on the history of modern dog breeds in the Victorian era and the display on the Irish wolfhound reveals that its origins are in England in the Victorian era.  It was certainly one of the most controversial breeds of the nineteenth century.  The history told then was that it once amongst the famous and sought after dogs in Europe, famed for its size and ability to hunt down wolves.  However, as the wolf population of Ireland declined, the last pair being killed in 1786, such hunting dogs went out of favour and had disappear altogether by the start of the nineteenth century.

Irish wolfhound display in the exhibition Breed: The British and their Dogs at Manchester Museum. 2012.

In the 1860s, George Augustus Graham, a Scot and ex-Indian Army officer who lived in Gloucestershire, decided to revive the Irish wolfhound.  He had heard that there some dogs in Ireland with wolfhound blood and he set out to find them.  He bought three dogs he was assured were of the right descent and took them back to his estate in England.  They were a motley lot and proved hard to breed from; one was infertile and the others produced weak dogs.  However, there was a question about what type and size of dog Graham should aim to revive.  No one alive remembered the dogs, so Graham turned to books, poems, travelogues and paintings.  No consistent type was represented.  Some descriptions emphasised size ( 4-5 feet in height!); others described a greyhound-like form, but this competed with views that it had been a mastiff or deerhound. There were also varying views on its colour, type of coat and character.

On this basis of his research Graham decided on a particular form, height, colour and coat, and a life size model was said to have been made;  although the only direct record we have is the ideal dog overdrawn on a photograph of Graham (see the image below).  A dog of the appropriate form was eventually produced, allegedly with Graham introducing blood from Scottish deerhounds (for shape), Great Dane (for size), borzois (for its greyhound shape) and Tibetans (for a rough coat).

Captain Graham and his ideal Irish wolfhound as featured in his annotated version of his own book the Irish Wolfhound. 1885.

Graham’s dog was challenged by H. W. Hickman, a breeder from Birmingham.  In a correspondence with Graham and others in the Livestock Journal and Fancier’s Gazette in 1879-80, he claimed that the true Irish wolfdog – not hound – was smooth-haired and more like a greyhound or Great Dane, not the rough coated animal that Graham had produced.  His grounds for this was his reading of sources on Irish mythology and history, plus the descriptions of George-Louis Comte de Buffon and above all challenging the authority of Major H.D. Richardson’s book The Dog: Its Origin, Natural History, and Varieties, published in 1842.  Hickman objected strongly to Richardson’s claim that the Irish wolfhound and the Scotch deerhound were the same breed, and that Scotch was a degenerate form of the Irish!  Hickman, a breeder of Scotch deerhounds, argued that Richardson was simply wrong and that Graham, who had followed Richardson’s plea to save the breed, had been misguided.  He wrote:

‘I am sorry to oppose Mr GRAHAM, whose patience and determination for so many years in the pursuit of his theory, are worthy of – as I take it – a better cause; but if we are to have a new manufacture, let us at least have it in accordance with the direct evidence we possess, and not encourage a dog which is a creature of inference, supposition and conjecture.’

However, Graham’s type proved popular and was recognised by the Kennel Club in 1897.

There is no doubt that as a cultural icon the Irish wolfhound has its origins in ‘the mists of Irish time’, however, the modern physical specimen originated in the 1860s in England, through the work of a Scotsman likely breeding with Scottish, Danish, Russian and Tibetan dogs. 

Professor Mick Worboys
Centre for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine and Wellcome Unit for the History of Medicine
University of Manchester

Japanese Cornish Treasure

Today I had the pleasure of welcoming Dr. Satoko Parker from Philadelphia, USA, to the Museum. Dr. Parker was visiting to view our wonderful collection of Hamada Shōji pots.

Dr. Parker in the Living Cultures ceramic store. 2012.

Hamada (1894 –1978) was an internationally renowned Japanese potter and remains a seminal figure in the history of ceramics. Upon meeting the British potter Bernard Leach  in 1920 Hamada moved to St. Ives, Cornwall, UK, and stayed until 1923. During this time he produced some exquisite pieces, 3 of which belong to the Manchester Museum and can be seen on display in the World Cultures gallery.  

Stoneware jug. Hamada Shōji. 1920-1923. St. Ives, Cornwall, UK.The Manchester Museum Living Cultures collection.

Hamada’s pots form part of a much larger studio pottery collection which includes pieces by Bernard Leach and Katherine Pleydell-Bouverie.

Stoneware vase. Katherine Pleydell-Bouverie. 1925-1930. Coleshill, Berkshire, UK. The Manchester Museum Living Cultures collection.

 Stephen Terence Welsh

Curator of Living Cultures

Way Out North West

Buffalo Bill’s Wild West company spent several weeks  in Salford in 1887 and the Manchester Museum has some very special, and unique, material relating to this occurance.


Buffalo Bill's Wild West show poster, 1899 (Not part of the Manchester Museum collection)


In pervious blog posts I’ve detailed this material ( but if you’d like to find out more I’ll be giving a talk this Friday at 1pm in the Museum as part of the Manchester Histories Festival. Please do feel free to drop in but do be aware that space is limited so be punctual!

Stephen Terence Welsh

Curator of Living Cultures

Pharmaceuticals and Shamans

Earlier this month I gave a lecture to NHS staff the focus of which was the relationship between the Living Cultures collection and the history of medicine. It was part of a week-long series of events called Culture Shots which aimed at introducing NHS staff to the very many cultural assets in and around Manchester. You can find out further details about this project at

Pestle. Oceania, Cook Islands, Mauke. Henry Wellcome. The Manchester Museum Living Cultures Collection.

The lecture explored the life of one particularly important 19th century entrepeneur and collector whose objects form an integral component of the Living Cultures collection, namely Sir Henry Solomon Wellcome. Born in 1853 in Almond, Wisconsin, USA, Wellcome migrated to the UK in 1880. Whilst here his pharmaceutical company, Burroughs Wellcome & Company, became a market leader and with it came a vast personal fortune. Recreationally, he was a passionate ameatuer ethnographer and was fascinated with medicinal practice and around the world. He indulged this passion using his fortune and acquired an astonishing personal collection of 1,500,000 objects, 125,000 may well have had some medical use. Upon his death in 1936 the Wellcome Trust became responsible for administering his estate, it invested heavily in medical research, and continues to do so, and took the difficult decision to rationalise the huge collection. This rationalisation saw parts of the collection distributed to other museums throughout the UK and internationally. To find out more about the life of Sir Henry Wellcome and the work of the Wellcome Trust visit

Sir Henry Wellcome. Copyright The Wellcome Trust.

The Living Cultures collection generously received over 1000 objects as donated in 1926, 1953, 1957, 1981 and finally in 1983. Not all of the objects in question are directly related to the history of medicine but a significant percentage are. Some of the wonderful objects from the Wellcome collection that we have here at the Manchester Museum can be seen below.

Mask. Asia, Sri Lanka. Henry Wellcome. The Manchester Museum Living Cultures Collection.


Feather head-dress. Henry Wellcome. South America, Brazil. Henry Wellcome. The Manchester Museum Living Cultures Collection.

Pestle. Oceania. Henry Wellcome. The Manchester Museum Living Cultures Collection.

The fascination with non-Western medicinal practice is as strong as it ever was, with shows like Channel 4s recent Medicine Men Go Wild testifying to this.

Medicine Men Go Wild. Copyright Channel 4.

Stephen Terence Welsh

Curator of Living Cultures

The Lost Salford Sioux

Several months ago now I had the good fortune to meet playwright Anjum Malik. Anjum was conducting research into the Native American performers who accompanied Buffalo Bill during their stay in Salford in the later 19th century. This research formed the basis of her play which was commissioned by BBC Radio 3 to celebrate the opening of the BBC North’s new premises at Salford Quays in 2011. I was able to share with Anjum some of the wonderful archival material in the Living Cultures collection related to this historical event, specifically the portrait of Oglala Lakota Chief Red Shirt as taken by Salfordian photographer C.R. Brandis.

Red Shirt, Oglala Lokota Chief, Late 19th Century, Salford, UK. The Manchester Museum Living Cultures collection, 2012.

Reverse of Red Shirt portrait showing Brandis stamp, Late 19th Century, Salford, UK. The Manchester Museum Living Cultures collection, 2012.

Excitingly the completed play will be broadcast this coming Sunday at 20:30. Anjum has kindly acknowledged the support of the Museum on the BBC Radio 3 webpage, for more information please follow the link below:

Do tune in!

Stephen Terence Welsh

Curator of Living Cultures

Installation Design and the Exhibition of Oceanic Things: Two New York Museums in the 1940s

On Wednesday 9th November , Kanaris Theatre, the Manchester Museum, from 3pm onwards Professor Robert Foster, University of Rochester, New York,  will be presenting his paper:

Installation Design and the Exhibition of Oceanic Things: Two New York Museums in the 1940s

 Further information regarding Professor Fosters research can be found at:

 The presentation is a result of ongoing collaboration between the Museum and the University of Manchester Pacific Interest Group and Department of Social Anthropology. The Manchester Museum has an international significant Oceanic collection with over 7000 objects including textiles, weapons, tools, masks and carvings.

Bone and shell fish hook, Maori, New Zealand. 1800-1900. The Manchester Museum Living Cultures collection.

Spaces are limited so if you would like to attend do be punctual!

Stephen Terence Welsh

Curator of Living Cultures


Gateway to Asia

The Manchester Museum recently became an official member of Virtual Collection of Masterpieces, an ASEMUS – The Asia Europe Museum Network project. The sheer quality and international significance of the Living Cultures Asia collection secured our inclusion.

The Oriental Gallery, The Manchester Museum, 1980s.

We’re in good company, as other fellow members include such esteemed institutions as:

  •  The British Museum
  • The Museum of World Cultures, Gothenburg, Sweden
  • Tropenmuseum, Amsterdam, the Netherlands
  • University Museum and Art Gallery, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
  • National Museum of Ethnology, Osaka, Japan
  • National Museum of Korea, Seoul, Republic of Korea 


The aim of the project is to showcase and share information about the very many wonderful Asian collections which reside in European and Asian museums. We currently have 10 records online which you can view by following the link below:


Stephen Terence Welsh

Curator of Living Cultures

Mana Maori and a Mongolian Bow

Last week saw the welcome return of several of the Living Cultures collection exceptional Maori objects. In October 2010 the objects were loaned to the National Museum of Ethnology, Leiden, the Netherlands. They were included in the stunning exhibition Mana Maori: The Power of New Zealand’s First Inhabitants which ran from October 2010 until May 2011. The Living Cultures collection is home to over 250 Maori objects, a significant amount of which are of international importance. One such object is the 19th century kuwaha, or carved doorway, which many visitors to Mana Maori saw for the very first time.

0.7857, Maori Kuwaha, Aotearoa, 19th century. The Manchester Museum Living Cultures Collection.

Furthermore, last week also saw the arrival of  Mongolian performance artist Enkhbold Togmidshiirev as part of the Asia Triennial arts festival. Not only was Enkhbold able to give a wonderful performance using his traditional Mongolian ger, or tent, and a lecture, he was also able to see some of the Mongolian bows and arrows in the Archery collection. In an enlightening discussion Honorary Curator of Archery Wendy Hodkinson and Enkhbold shared their enthusiasm, experience and knowledge of the objects. The moment was captured in the images below, in which you can see Wendy, Enkhbold and  interpreter Tsendpurev Tsegmid.

Stephen Terence Welsh

Curator of Living Cultures

Cultural Contumacy?

Over the past several days the media has been awash with theories which claim to identify the cause of the recent English riots. One of the most controversial theories, as confidentially articulated  by historian David Starkey, is that so-called Black culture is to blame. Starkey’s comments have reignited a national debate on the relationship between race and culture.

19th century anthropologists viewed culture as a static phenomenon attributed to particular racial groups. Crude notions of cultural sophistication were developed which seemingly proved the superiority of European culture. Objects like those in the Living Cultures collection were used to demonstrate the assumed primitive nature of non-European cultures, particularly those in Africa. This cultural primitivism was believed to have caused moral impoverishment, the jingoistic remedy for which was colonial intervention.

British officers meeting with the Sobo people, Nigeria, Africa, late 19th century. The Living Cultures collection, the Manchester Museum.

Shockingly the idea that African and Black culture is somehow negative is still perpetuated. So too is the absurd notion that culture is inextricably linked with race and cannot transcend it. Over several decades individuals, communities and organisations, such as the Manchester Museum, have worked tirelessly to confront and extinguish these myths.

Stephen Terence Welsh

Curator of Living Cultures