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acquisitions on display

the Guérin-Faublée donation and the Thérèse Rivière collection

In October 2005 the Quai Branly Museum multimedia library received a donation of the photographs and archives of Jacques Faublée, the former head of the Malagasy collection in the Museum of Man. This donation was also the opportunity for his daughter, Véronique Guérin, to return the archives from Thérèse Rivière’s expedition in the Aurès Mountains which her father had preserved to prevent them from being destroyed. These basically contain documents and photographs relating to the expedition in the Aurès Mountains from 1934-1937 (1) but it also contains offprints, articles, notes, series of photographs and field notebooks reflecting the scientific work of Jacques Faublée and his wife Marcelle Urbain(2).

 

collective granary ©musée du quai Branly, photo Jacques Faublée. - Click to enlarge, open in a new window
collective granary ©musée du quai Branly, photo Jacques Faublée.

The Aurès Mountains expedition (1934-1937)

In December 1934, Thérèse Rivière and Germaine Tillion (3),two former students of the Ethnology Institute in Paris (4),arrived in Algeria in order to, according to Henri Labouret (5),conduct "a wide-ranging survey, both sociological and ethnological in nature, on the Aurès and its inhabitants with the aim of making an effective contribution to the methods of colonisation; knowledge of indigenous customs, beliefs and techniques making a more fruitful and more humane collaboration with the indigenous people possible, and leading to a more rational usage of natural resources…Secondarily, we intend to form a collection of objects systematically collected with photographs, sketches and films”(6).This expedition was sponsored by Ethnology Institute in Paris and received 600 pounds from the International Institute of African Civilization and Language in London.

At this time, Germaine Tillion already had some field experience (7) whereas it was Thérèse Rivière’s first time conducting a real ethnographic survey. She only knew Chaillot hill and the Trocadero Ethnography Museum where she was hired as a “technical aide” in 1928 following in the footsteps of her brother Georges-Henri Rivière, one of the future founders of the Natural History Museum. In 1931, the Natural History Museum, which the Trocadero Ethnography Museum is part of, officially appointed her as assistant. Thus, she performed vary varied tasks, as secretary, registering collections, classifying photographs, dusting objects, organizing exhibitions, etc (8).Beginning in 1933, Paul Rivet put her in charge of a newly created department: "White Africa and the East" (9).

Once the two young women arrived in the Aurès region they quickly went their separate ways and conducted their surveys independently. Germaine Tillion was in charge of the sociological survey and Thérèse Rivière studied techniques and collected everyday objects. Jacques Faublée, auxiliary assistant in the Trocadero Ethnography Museum and friend of Thérèse Rivière after they took a course in prehistory together at the Ecole du Louvre, joined her for several consecutive summers (1935-1936-1937) to help with her work. He began working in the Trocadero Ethnography Museum in 1932, at first on a voluntary basis helping Thérèse Rivière in the picture library and unpacking the objects from the Dakar Djibouti exhibition. In 1934, the arrival of Malagasy objects at the museum prompted the opening of a new section. Paul Rivet then entrusted him with creating a small exhibition on Madagascar in the permanent exhibition gallery, which opened on 14 December 1934. From this moment on he started specialising in studying Madagascar (10).

He returned to the Aurès in 1950 with his wife Marcelle Urbain to study the collective granaries which had interested him since his first experiences in the region. On their return, Marcelle Urbain published two articles in the Journal of the Africanist Society (11) and formed a collection of 400 negatives accompanied by their inventories and captions and field notes which have been donated to the image library of the Quai Branly Musuem by their daughter Véronique Guérin.

Thérèse Rivière brought back 857 objects (collection 71.1936.2) and Germaine Tillion 130 objects (collection 71.1937.9) from the expedition in the Aurès. The museographic notes on each object were painstakingly written by Thérèse Rivière (in 1944): names of craftsmen often appear as well as a photograph showing either the stages of its manufacture or how it was used.

Therefore, the Aurès expedition of 1934-1937 is very well-documented as a result of this donation.

Portrait of an old woman ©musée du quai Branly, photo Jacques Faublée. - Click to enlarge, open in a new window
Portrait of an old woman ©musée du quai Branly, photo Jacques Faublée.

The Aurès exhibition

The results of the expedition were put on display in the Museum of Man in an exhibition called l’Aurès which opened on 28 May 1943. Jacques Faublée was in charge of the exhibition as at the time Thérèse Rivière was ill and Germaine Tillion, as a member of the “Musée de l’Homme network”, a French resistance movement, was captured after being denounced. She was then imprisoned in Fresnes before being deported to Ravensbrück concentration camp from where she would be liberated in 1945.

Organised in three parts, the exhibition displayed a very large number of objects and photographs: the first part dealt with construction (terraced fields, irrigation devices, collective granaries and apiaries) and the habitat through photographs and sketches ; the second part dealt with techniques (objects and photographs showing the stages of use and production); and the last part dealt with the social organisation (with photographs of events: wedding parties, sowing season, circumcisions, etc.).

The Catalogue des collections de l’Aurès (12) was written by Jacques Faublée, based on the notes made by Thérèse Rivière and by Germaine Tillion sent from where she was imprisoned. Within the difficult context of the war, this exhibition managed to last for 3 years and remained open until May 1946.

Portrait of Thérèse Rivière ©musée du quai Branly, photo Jacques Faublée. - Click to enlarge, open in a new window
Portrait of Thérèse Rivière ©musée du quai Branly, photo Jacques Faublée.

The Thérèse Rivière archives

The archives of Thérèse Rivière bring together twenty-odd field notebooks, the linguistic questionnaire from her expedition, the captions for her photographs, the inventory of the objects collected, a set of drawings made by the inhabitants of several villages, the expedition report, the planned publications and texts from some conferences. The also contain some documents relating to other expeditions she made in Algeria some years later.

Reading the field notebooks reveals Thérèse Rivière’s objectives and work methods. She studied the material and aesthetic culture of the Chaouia people by meticulously putting what he had learnt in the courses given by Marcel Mauss on museum ethnography and how to create a collection into practice (13),but also by following the instructions of the Manuel d’Instructions sommaires pour les collecteurs d'objets ethnographiques [Brief instruction manual for collectors of ethnographic objects] produced in 1931 for the Dakar-Djibouti expedition. These archives provide a significant and unparalleled amount of information on the Chaouias people between 1934 and 1937 and clearly illustrate the ethnography principles of the 1930s.

The Jacques Faublée archives

The archives of Jacques Faublée on the expedition in the Aurès are made up of notes on granaries, a set of offprints from Etudes et documents Berbères where both Thérèse Rivière and he published articles (14),but also numerous other catalogues and offprints, as well as his own work documents either on the Aurès, Madagascar and Oceania. Some 3,000 photographs with the majority of their negatives taken on a Rolleiflex during the Aurès expedition accompanied by an inventory and their captions complete those taken by Thérèse Rivière which the Musée de l’Homme already held and which are now preserved in the image library of the Quai Branly Museum.

The photographs

Thérèse Rivière’s photographs, taken on a Leica, but also those taken by Jacques Faublée, represent an inventory of techniques, construction, and all forms of production and creation of the Chaouia peoples in the Aurès, especially the Ath Abderrahman Kebèche among whom she lived for a year, accompanying them as they travelled following the transhumance cycles. By performing the Instructions (15) to the letter, they undertook one of the first semi-systematic recording of the techniques and know-how of a people through photographs, which today might be perceived as a very academic work but was very modern for its time. This intensive photographic survey seems to be an attempt to essentially define the Chaouias through their techniques and what they produced, dwelling on the details of objects isolated from their environment, the hand movements when weaving, spinning wool, basket-making, pottery, etc. Through these photographs we can perceive the ties that Thérèse Rivière was able to form with these people.

The apparent austerity and frozen aspect which come across from some photographs on first viewing can be explained by the scientific rigour and strong will of these two people to describe the population as best they could in their more ethnographic than aesthetic approach. Even though an “absence of aesthetic pretensions” (16) dominates, some of the photographs belong to the style of the 1930s.

This expedition is the perfect illustration of the professional French ethnography which appeared in the 1930. “A side view of Algeria (…), it was the first professional ethnological survey conducted as such there, meaning independently of the colonial administrative and academic structures.” (17).

This donation significantly enriches the photographic and documentary collections regarding this region of Africa in the Quai Branly Museum.

 

 

 

 

Sarah Frioux-Salgas,head of collections documentation and archives

Carine Peltier,head of the image library, in charge of collections management

text from February 2006, reviewed in 2008

notes

(1) And some visits in 1939; The context and story of this expedition are described in a remarkable way in an article by Fabrice Grognet and Mathilde de Lataillade, “From the Aurès mountains to Chaillot hill, the journey of Thérèse Rivière”, Revue de l’Outre-mer, volume 92, n° 344-345, 2004 as well as in the book by Fanny Colonna, Aurès/Algérie 1935-1936. Elle a passé tant d‘heures…, Paris, Editions de la MSH, 1987.

(2) Marcelle Urbain, daughter of Achille Urbain, director of the Natural History Museum from 1942 to 1949.

(3) Thérèse Rivière was in charge of the ethnographic part of the expedition and Germaine Tillion was in charge of the sociological part.

(4) The Ethnology Institute of Paris was created in 1925 by Paul Rivet, Marcel Mauss and Lucien Levy-Bruhl.

(5) French representative of the International Institute of African language and Civilization in London. This expedition was financed by this institute and sponsored by the Ethnology Institute of Paris.

(6) Colonna, Fanny, Aurès/Algérie 1935-1936. Elle a passé tant d‘heures…, Paris, Editions de la MSH, 1987, p130.

(7) “I had interviewed some natives of Cantal, Brittany and l’île de France”, Tillion, Germaine, Il était une fois l’ethnographie, 2000, Seuil.

(8) Thérèse Rivière would be the driving influence behind the large “Sahara” exhibition in 1934. Jacques Faublée interview by Nicole Boulfroy, former head of the Malagasy collections in the Musée de l’Homme, 10 February 1998.

(9) Since 1992 it has been called North Africa and Near East. Today the collections and this former department of the Musée de l’Homme are divided between the Asia and Africa collections of the Quai Branly Museum.

(10) The donation also includes studies by Jacques Faublée on Madagascar: Faublée, Jacques, Inventaire d’objets Bara collectés à Madagascar, 1939-1940; Faublée, Jacques, La musique à Madagascar, Sépia Découverte jeunesse, Collections du Laboratoire d’Ethnologie du musée de l’Homme, 1999; Faublée, Marcelle eand Jacques, “Canoes and sailing among the Vezo of south-west Madagascar” L’Anthropologie; Urbain-Faublée, Marcelle, L’art malgache, PUF, Paris, 1963; Faublée, Jacques, Ethnographie de Madagascar, Musée de l’Homme (work copy of Jacques Faublée).

(11) Faublée-Urbain, Marcelle, “Seals of collective stores (Aurès)”, Journal de la Société des Africanistes, 1955;  “Collective stores of Oued El Abiod (Aurès)”, Journal de la société des Africanistes, 1951; but also Faublée-Urbain, Marcelle and Jacques “A male harvest ritual in the Aurès” A la croisée des études Libyco-Berbères.

(12) Paris, Musée de l’Homme, 1943.

(13) Returned notes

(14) Rivière, Thérèse and Faublée, Jacques, “In the southern Aurès in 1935. Circumcisions, marriage, and Hiji among the Ouled Abderrahman”, Etudes et documents Berbères, 1991; Faublée Jacques “On Thérèse Rivière (1901-1970) and her expeditions in the Aurès”, Etudes et documents Berbères, 1988; Rivière, Thérèse and Faublée, Jacques, “Berber Tattoos in the Aurès”, Etudes et documents Berbères, 1989; Perret, Robert “Chart of North African cave engravings and ochre paintings”, Journal de la société des africanistes, vol. VII, Fascicule 1, 1937; Rivière, Thérèse, “Habitation among the Ouled Abdderrahman Chaouia in the Aurès”,  Africa, vol. XI, Number 3, 1937.

(15) Instructions sommaires pour les collecteurs d’objets ethnographiques, Paris, Musée d’ethnographie, 1931.

(16) Colonna, Fanny, Aurès/Algérie 1935-1936. Elle a passé tant d‘heures…, Paris, Editions de la MSH, 1987.

(17) Colonna, Fanny, Aurès/Algérie 1935-1936. Elle a passé tant d‘heures…, Paris, Editions de la MSH, 1987, p149.

Related bibliography

Colonna, Fanny, Aurès/Algérie 1935-1936. Elle a passé tant d‘heures…, Paris, Editions de la MSH, 1987.

Faublée, Jacques, La musique à Madagascar, Sépia Découverte jeunesse, Collections du Laboratoire d’Ethnologie du musée de l’Homme, 1999

Urbain-Faublée, Marcelle, L’art malgache, PUF, Paris, 1963 ; Faublée, Jacques, Ethnographie de Madagascar, Musée de l’Homme

Tillion, Germaine, Il était une fois l’ethnographie, 2000, Seuil.

Articles

Grognet, Fabrice et Lataillade, Mathilde de ,“From the Aurès mountains to Chaillot hill, the route of Thérèse Rivière”, Revue de l’Outre-mer, volume 92, n° 344-345, 2004

Rivière, Thérèse,“Habitation among the Ouled Abdderrahman Chaouia in the Aurès”,  Africa, vol. XI, Number 3, 1937.

Faublée Jacques,“On Thérèse Rivière (1901-1970) and her expeditions in the Aurès”, Etudes et documents Berbères, 1988.

Rivière, Thérèse et Faublée, Jacques,“Berber Tattoos in the Aurès”, Etudes et documents Berbères, 1989.

Faublée, Marcelle et Jacques,“Canoes and sailing among the Vezo of south-west Madagascar”, L’Anthropologie, 1950, n°5-6.

Perret, Robert « Chart of North African cave engravings and ochre paintings »,Journal de la société des africanistes, vol. VII, Fascicule 1, 1937.   

Rivière, Thérèse et Faublée, Jacques,“In the southern Aurès in 1935. Circumcisions, marriage, and Hiji among the Ouled Abderrahman”, Etudes et documents Berbères, 1991.

Faublée-Urbain, Marcelle, « Seals of collective stores (Aurès) », Journal de la Société des Africanistes, 1955.Journal de la Société des Africanistes, 1955. 

Faublée-Urbain, Marcelle, «Collective stores of Oued El Abiod  (Aurès)», Journal de la société des Africanistes, 1951.