Leipzig Museum of Ethnography
The Leipzig Museum of Ethnography is a large ethnographic
Ethnography is a qualitative method aimed to learn and understand cultural phenomena which reflect the knowledge and system of meanings guiding the life of a cultural group...

 museum in Leipzig
Leipzig Leipzig has always been a trade city, situated during the time of the Holy Roman Empire at the intersection of the Via Regia and Via Imperii, two important trade routes. At one time, Leipzig was one of the major European centres of learning and culture in fields such as music and publishing...

, Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

. Today it is part of the Grassi Museum
Grassi Museum
The Grassi Museum is a building complex in Leipzig, Germany, home to three museums: the Ethnography Museum, Musical Instruments Museum, and Applied Arts Museum....

, an institution which also includes the Museum of Applied Arts
Leipzig Museum of Applied Arts
The Museum of Applied Arts is a museum in Leipzig, Germany. It is the second oldest museum of decorative arts in the country, founded just six years after the Kunstgewerbemuseum Berlin...

 and the Museum of Musical Instruments
Museum of Musical Instruments of the University of Leipzig
The Museum of Musical Instruments of the University of Leipzig is a museum in Leipzig, Germany. It is located on Johannisplatz, near the city centre...

, based in a large building on the Johannisplatz.


The museum traces its origins to the historian, librarian and court counsellor Gustav Klemm, whose cultural historical
Cultural history
The term cultural history refers both to an academic discipline and to its subject matter.Cultural history, as a discipline, at least in its common definition since the 1970s, often combines the approaches of anthropology and history to look at popular cultural traditions and cultural...

 collection found a permanent home in the newly-founded museum in 1869, shortly after his death. At first it was provisionally kept in former chemical laboratories in Leipzig. The collection was expanded in the following decades, and exhibitions were held in various buildings across the city, organised by the Association of the Museum of Ethnography. In 1895 the collection moved into the Old Grassi Museum on the Königsplatz, built over three years specifically for this purpose, though now home to the municipal library. The city of Leipzig took over the museum in 1904. In 1929 it moved into the New Grassi Museum on the Johannisplatz, whose construction had begun in 1925.

The museum closed at the outbreak of World War II. The building was severely hit by a bombing raid
Bombing of Leipzig in World War II
During World War II, Leipzig was repeatedly attacked by British as well as American air raids. The most severe attack was launched by the Royal Air Force in the early hours of December 4, 1943 and claimed more than 1,800 lives...

 in 1943 which destroyed 30,000 objects. Rebuilding began in 1947, with the first permanent exhibitions reopened in 1954. Damage to the central heating forced the closure of the museum from 1981-85. Since 1991 the museum has been run by the Saxonian State Ministry of Science and Art. In 1994 the German postal service issued a memorial stamp to commemorate the museum's 125th anniversary. The New Grassi Museum was renovated from 2000-05, necessitating the closure of the main Ethnography Museum during that time, though a small exhibition was held elsewhere. The museum was gradually reopened from 2005-09.

The museum is a member of the Konferenz Nationaler Kultureinrichtungen
Konferenz Nationaler Kultureinrichtungen
The Konferenz Nationaler Kultureinrichtungen or Conference of National Cultural Institutions is a union of more than twenty cultural organizations in the former East Germany...

, a union of more than twenty cultural institutions in the former East Germany.

In 2004 the museum formed the Saxonian State Collections of Ethnography in partnership with the ethnological museums of Dresden and Herrnhut
Herrnhut is a municipality in the district of Görlitz, in the Free State of Saxony, Germany.It has access to Bundesstraße 178 between Löbau and Zittau...



With over 200,000 objects it is among the largest ethnographic collections in Germany. Items include:

East Asia

Over 30,000 objects, such as:
  • The Japanese collection of Karl Rathgen
    Karl Rathgen
    Karl Rathgen was a German Economist. He was the first Chancellor of the University of Hamburg....

    , including tsubas and Japanese woodcuts
    refers to Japanese multi-colored woodblock printing; this technique is used primarily in ukiyo-e. It was invented in the 1760s, and perfected and popularized by the printmaker Suzuki Harunobu, who produced a great many nishiki-e prints between 1765 and his death five years later.Previously, most...

  • The collection of Hermann Speck von Sternburg
    Hermann Speck von Sternburg
    Hermann Speck von Sternburg was a German diplomat.-Biography:He was educated in the Fürstenschule Saint Afra, Meissen, Saxony, and the military academy of Potsdam, fought through the Franco-Prussian War in the Second Saxon dragoons, and remained in the military service until 1885...

    , with Tibet
    Tibet is a plateau region in Asia, north-east of the Himalayas. It is the traditional homeland of the Tibetan people as well as some other ethnic groups such as Monpas, Qiang, and Lhobas, and is now also inhabited by considerable numbers of Han and Hui people...

    an thangka
    A "Thangka," also known as "Tangka", "Thanka" or "Tanka" is a Tibetan silk painting with embroidery, usually depicting a Buddhist deity, famous scene, or mandala of some sort. The thankga is not a flat creation like an oil painting or acrylic painting...

    s and religious sculptures, and Chinese "dragon robes";
  • A Taiwan
    Taiwan , also known, especially in the past, as Formosa , is the largest island of the same-named island group of East Asia in the western Pacific Ocean and located off the southeastern coast of mainland China. The island forms over 99% of the current territory of the Republic of China following...

    ese collection with over 300 artefacts from the island's early inhabitants.

Southeast Asia

11,000 objects, mostly from Indonesia, Thailand and Burma, also including 169 Malaysian artefacts of the Semang
The Semang are a Negrito ethnic group of the Malay Peninsula. Lowland Semang tribes are also known as Sakai, although this term is considered to be derogatory by the Semang people. They are probably the indigenous peoples of this area. They have been recorded to have lived here since before the...

 and Senoi
The Senoi are a set of Malaysian hunting and gathering Orang Asli peoples.-Demography:The Senoi tribes live in the central part of the Malaya peninsula, and consist of five different groups, the Semai, Temiar, Mah Meri, Jah Hut, Sema Berisi and the Che Wong, all of who speak Senoic languages and...

 people; Batak
Batak (Indonesia)
Batak is a collective term used to identify a number of ethnic groups predominantly found in North Sumatra, Indonesia. The term is used to include the Toba, Karo, Pakpak, Simalungun, Angkola and Mandailing, each of which are distinct but related groups with distinct, albeit related, languages and...

 items from Sumatra
Sumatra is an island in western Indonesia, westernmost of the Sunda Islands. It is the largest island entirely in Indonesia , and the sixth largest island in the world at 473,481 km2 with a population of 50,365,538...

; Kalimantan
In English, the term Kalimantan refers to the Indonesian portion of the island of Borneo, while in Indonesian, the term "Kalimantan" refers to the whole island of Borneo....

 and Philippine
The Philippines , officially known as the Republic of the Philippines , is a country in Southeast Asia in the western Pacific Ocean. To its north across the Luzon Strait lies Taiwan. West across the South China Sea sits Vietnam...

 objects once owned by the Meyer family.

South Asia

Domestic, agricultural and artistic objects from what are now Kerala
or Keralam is an Indian state located on the Malabar coast of south-west India. It was created on 1 November 1956 by the States Reorganisation Act by combining various Malayalam speaking regions....

 and Tamil Nadu
Tamil Nadu
Tamil Nadu is one of the 28 states of India. Its capital and largest city is Chennai. Tamil Nadu lies in the southernmost part of the Indian Peninsula and is bordered by the union territory of Pondicherry, and the states of Kerala, Karnataka, and Andhra Pradesh...

 in south India; Sinhalese
Sinhalese people
The Sinhalese are an Indo-Aryan ethnic group,forming the majority of Sri Lanka,constituting 74% of the Sri Lankan population.They number approximately 15 million worldwide.The Sinhalese identity is based on language, heritage and religion. The Sinhalese speak Sinhala, an Indo-Aryan language and the...

 items from the east coast and central highlands of Sri Lanka; over 100 theatrical masks (mostly kolam
Kolam is a form of painting that is drawn using rice powder. A Kolam is a geometrical line drawing composed of curved loops, drawn around a grid pattern of dots. In South India, it is widely practised by female Hindu family members in front of their homes.-Purpose:Kolams are thought to bestow...

) from the island's south-west coast. Also included are the findings of the explorer Egon Freiherr von Eickstedt
Egon Freiherr von Eickstedt
Egon Freiherr von Eickstedt was a German physical anthropologist who classified humanity into races.-Racial typology:...

, who encountered the Vedda of Sri Lanka, the Sora of east-central India (Orissa
Orissa , officially Odisha since Nov 2011, is a state of India, located on the east coast of India, by the Bay of Bengal. It is the modern name of the ancient nation of Kalinga, which was invaded by the Maurya Emperor Ashoka in 261 BC. The modern state of Orissa was established on 1 April...

), the Andamanese
Andaman Islands
The Andaman Islands are a group of Indian Ocean archipelagic islands in the Bay of Bengal between India to the west, and Burma , to the north and east...

, and the Nicobarese
Nicobar Islands
The Nicobar Islands are an archipelagic island chain in the eastern Indian Ocean...



Around 20,000 objects from Melanesia
Melanesia is a subregion of Oceania extending from the western end of the Pacific Ocean to the Arafura Sea, and eastward to Fiji. The region comprises most of the islands immediately north and northeast of Australia...

, including the former German South Sea Protectorate
German New Guinea
German New Guinea was the first part of the German colonial empire. It was a protectorate from 1884 until 1914 when it fell to Australia following the outbreak of the First World War. It consisted of the northeastern part of New Guinea and several nearby island groups...

; Fiji
Fiji , officially the Republic of Fiji , is an island nation in Melanesia in the South Pacific Ocean about northeast of New Zealand's North Island...

an objects purchased in 1885 from the Museum Godeffroy
Museum Godeffroy
The Museum Godeffroy was a museum in Hamburg, Germany, which existed from 1861 to 1885.The collection was founded by Johann Cesar VI. Godeffroy, who became a wealthy shipping magnate a few years after the expansion of the his trade towards Australia and the South Seas. His expert collectors and...



Items from the east coast of Queensland
Queensland is a state of Australia, occupying the north-eastern section of the mainland continent. It is bordered by the Northern Territory, South Australia and New South Wales to the west, south-west and south respectively. To the east, Queensland is bordered by the Coral Sea and Pacific Ocean...

; a collection of shields from a rainforest region near a goldfield, assembled in the 19th century during the start of the Gold Rush
Australian gold rushes
The Australian gold rush started in 1851 when prospector Edward Hammond Hargraves claimed the discovery of payable gold near Bathurst, New South Wales, at a site Edward Hargraves called Ophir.Eight months later, gold was found in Victoria...

; Arrernte
Arrernte people
The Arrernte people , known in English as the Aranda or Arunta, are those Indigenous Australians who are the original custodians of Arrernte lands in the central area of Australia around Mparntwe or Alice Springs in the Northern Territory. The Arrernte tribe has lived there for more than 20,000 years...

 and Loritja items from Central Australia
Central Australia
Central Australia/Alice Springs Region is one of the five regions in the Northern Territory. The term Central Australia is used to describe an area centred on Alice Springs in Australia. It is sometimes referred to as Centralia; likewise the people of the area are sometimes called Centralians...

; a Tiwi
Tiwi people
The Tiwi people are one of the many Indigenous groups of Australia. Nearly 2,500 Tiwi live in the Bathurst and Melville Islands, which make up the Tiwi Islands....

 collection; some stone artefacts from Tasmania
Tasmania is an Australian island and state. It is south of the continent, separated by Bass Strait. The state includes the island of Tasmania—the 26th largest island in the world—and the surrounding islands. The state has a population of 507,626 , of whom almost half reside in the greater Hobart...



One highlight from Northern Asia is a complete Evenk
The Evenks are a Tungusic people of Northern Asia. In Russia, the Evenks are recognized as one of the Indigenous peoples of the Russian North, with a population of 35,527...

 shaman's costume. There are also large African, American, Near Eastern and European collections.

External links

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