Collection of Pavel Šebesta in the Depository of the Náprstek Museum

Pages 3–22
Keywords Pavel Šebesta, ethnology, anthropology, Central Africa, Pygmies, material culture
Type of Article Peer-reviewed
Citation JIROUŠKOVÁ, Jana a PŮTOVÁ, Barbora. Collection of Pavel Šebesta in the Depository of the Náprstek Museum. Annals of the Náprstek Museum. Prague: National Museum, 2015, 36(2), 3–22. ISSN 0231-844X (print), 2533-5685 (online). Also available from:
Annals of the Náprstek Museum | 2015/36/2

This paper is a theoretical analysis of the field research and scientific work of the Austrian anthropologist, ethnographer, and Catholic missionary of Czech origin Pavel Jáchym Šebesta (1887–1968). The paper presents is scientific research from 1924 onward, including his continuous field research into Pygmy tribes in Central Africa and South-East Asia. The paper draws attention to the contribution made by Šebesta’s research; in addition to his anthropometric studies, he also carried out ethnological and linguistic research intoy habits and customs. The aim of this paper is to emphasize that Šebesta’s anthropologic research contributed to the revaluation and disproval of racist theories about the physique of Pygmies.The ethnographic collection of Pavel Šebesta is now deposited in the National Museum – Náprstek Museum of Asian, African and american Cultures in Prague, which acquired the collection in 1935. The entire collection contains 1037 objects and can be divided into 4 main groups: weapons (bows, arrows, quivers, javelins), garments (made of feathers, leather as well as of various types of plant fibres), various ornaments (necklaces and bracelets, also made from natural materials) and baskets used to store food, carry wood and gather honey from the forest bees.

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