Indian Gazelle Head Axe

How have attitudes changed over 100 years?

This Yorkshire World Collections object was one of 100 chosen by young people aged 16-24, as part of the London Cultural Olympiad programme Stories of the World.

This beautifully cast Indian battle axe probably dates from the 19th Century. It is intricately engraved with animals, and features the head of a gazelle where the blade curves to meet the handle. The Indian gazelle, also known as the 'chinkara', is found mainly in the dry regions of western and north western India. It is seen as a shy animal or in small herds in the dry scrubland. What makes the chinkara unique, is its ability to survive on very little water. They have been known to go for days at a time without ever drinking water. Instead, they can survive on dew and water from leaves.

The axe is one part of a collection of unusual objects brought back to the UK about 1900 by a Lieutenant Colonel James Harrison, from one of his big game hunting trips in India. James Harrison is best remembered for bringing six pygmies in 1906 from the Ituri forest in Zaire, to live in the park surrounding his home, Brandesburton Hall in Yorkshire. The group of pygmies were introduced to the English public at various events during the following 18 months before returning to their native Zaire.

Discussion Ideas:

  • At the time this object was brought back to the UK the British Empire was at its height. Find out more about the British Empire from the links below, then think about how our attitudes have changed about:
  1. People from different countries and cultures
  2. Taking precious objects out of the country they came from
  3. Animals at risk of extinction

Activity Ideas:

  • The Google map below points to the place where the pygmies  came from that James Harrison brought to 'exhibit' in the UK in 1906. What is the country called now?
  • Get into pairs and each list five examples of how peoples views and attitudes about different countries or continents have changed over 100 years. Compare your list with your partners and discuss any differences. 

Document icon Learning article provided by: Scarborough Museums Trust | 
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