Caroline Dodds Pennock: On Savage Shores (EBook, 2023, Weidenfeld & Nicolson) 4 stars

In this groundbreaking new history, Caroline Dodds Pennock recovers the long-marginalised stories of the Indigenous …

Among the ‘chiefest Rarities’ of the collection held in the Public Theatre and Anatomie Hall of the University of Leiden were: ‘a Norway house built of beams without mortar or stone; shoes and sandals from Russia, Siam and Egypt; the skin of a man dressed as parchment; a drinking cup made out of the skull of a Moor killed in the beleaguering of Haarlem; warlike arms used in China; Chinese gongs, paper and books; Egyptian mummies and idols; a petrified toadstool; and a mallet or hammer that the savages in New York kill with’. These collections or ‘wunderkammer’ (usually translated as ‘cabinet of curiosities’, but literally a ‘wonder chamber’) would, to a modern observer used to the order of museums and galleries, seem like an incoherent jumble, but in the early modern mind they formed a coherent whole.

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