Ethnographic travelsThe Himalayas, the Arctic, Pre-Columbian America, Oceania.

At the heart of the Himalayas

This collection is unique in France. It shows the richness of a folk art arising from inspirations that are both "classical" (mainly linked to Tibetan Buddhism) and "tribal" (Shamanism, village festivals). The pieces on display (masks, women's headdresses, votive statues, etc.) come from the main regions of the Himalayas: India (Ladakh, Arunachal Pradesh), Nepal, Tibet and Bhutan.

Arctic immersion

Some 60 Inuit pieces show off the craftsmanship of the primitive populations of Canada, Alaska and Greenland. Objects from everyday life, fishing and hunting tools are displayed either side of a central display case (hooks, snow goggles, etc.). Small figurines, mostly sculpted out of ivory (walrus's or seals' teeth), are shown together in three narrow display cases like precious jewels. They evoke the magical or religious world of the Inuits.

A trip across Pre-Columbian America

Three wall display cases bring together some 50 ceramics and stone sculptures from Central or South America, dating from the Pre-Columbian period. One display case is devoted to the civilisations of Mexico and Central America, and the other to the civilisations of the Andes and more especially to Peru. There are some remarkable pieces, such as the millstone shaped like a jaguar from Costa Rica or the Peruvian terra cotta pieces, including the impressive female statue from the Chancay culture, the portrait vase from the Mochica culture or the whistling vase from the Chimu-Lambayeque culture and that was made as a musical instrument.

Exploring Oceania

The great age of some of these pieces, their quality and rarity, make this section one of the highlights of the museum. Many of the 124 objects displayed here were collected by the ethnologist Edmond de Ginoux de La Coche during his two stays in Tahiti and on the Marquesas Islands (1843-1845 and 1848). There are several highlights: an array of weapons from Polynesia and Melanesia, including maces; the enclosed space containing effigy figures from Vanuatu; and the prow of a dugout canoe from the Trobriand Islands (New Guinea) in the central area of the second room dedicated to the peoples of the Pacific.