Trobriand Shield  Virtual Museum

     Collection of Trobriand war  shields started during the period when early Christian missionaries and European expeditions infiltrated the Massim area in the Solomon Sea off British New Guinea.

     Even the in-depth field work and ethnographic writing of Bronislaw Malinowski had failed to produce a definitive answer as to what, if anything, the designs on the decorated shields meant.


Welcome to a portal for all things Trobriand

Academic texts * Narratives * Analyses * Photography



 What is DEPTH?

An extraordinary, in-depth,
text-based tool for anthropologists

 Nearly 100 years ago, in a fortuitous meeting of mind and place,  our understanding of the commonality and diversity in human experience took a great leap forward with Bronislaw Kasper Malinowski’s encounter with the people of the Trobriand Islands.

Malinowski is generally credited to be originator and  primary advocate of  participant observation based fieldwork. His sojourns in the Trobriand Islands, and the texts which ensued, set the bar for generations of anthropologists, creating the definitive method of apprehending the "other."

Hence forth one must live in the community of study, and seek fluency in its language while participating in the imponderbillia of everyday life. Today it is very rare for a serious student of anthropology, anywhere in the world, to complete his/her studies without exposure to Trobriand ethnography.

Next best to being there is digital immersion in the vast corpus of texts stimulated by Malinowski’s adventure.

The DEPTH Database:

DEPTH,  an expanding compilation of more than 800 texts related  to Trobriand Islands and adjacent Massim cultures, is searched via DtSearch  software allowing students to explore a complex literature by facilitating:

    l) The reinterpretation of received ethnographic data;




      Click for larger map


"Imagine yourself suddenly set down ..."        Malinowski, 1922


Malinowski's Trobriand Centenary in

June 2015

      Puzzling the Literature:
Malinowski in the 21st Century


            2) The testing and revision of established theoretical precepts;

             3) Formulating and testing hypotheses.

A secondary, but potentially more far-reaching objective of this project, is to provide a model to stimulate and facilitate the creation of other digital archives for students of other cultures to access to complex textual discourses within which they can examine and test contemporary knowledge.



What else is here?

While our focus centers on
the Trobriands it also reaches out
to the wider cultural area
of the Massim.
You'll find:

*Academic texts

* Transcriptions and translations of Trobriand narratives

*Information about the authors of these texts

* Photographs with Trobriand content

  * Analyses created with the use of our DEPTH database

* Bibliography of Trobriand texts


DEP principals: Click to contact

Jay B. Crain, Ph.D.

Allan C. Darrah, Ph.D

Linus Silipolakapulapola Digm'Rina, Ph.D.

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