Native American cultures explored at Tbilisi photo exhibition

A 1906 photograph of women of the Hopi tribe grinding grain. Photo: Edward Curtis., 21 Sep 2017 - 15:35, Tbilisi,Georgia

Three museums in Georgia’s capital Tbilisi are hosting a month-long display honouring life and work of Edward Curtis, the famed researcher of Native American people and cultures.

In frame of the project, photographs taken by Curtis (1868-1952) during his exploration of North American tribes from 1900-1930 are exhibited.

They portray Native American population’s experience through their changing homeland, daily lives and spiritual beliefs in three concurrent displays.

A Tewa tribe girl named Chaiwa, photographed by Curtis in 1096. Photo: Edward Curtis.

The Tbilisi History Museum (also known as Karvasla), State Silk Museum and Art Palace are the three venues hosting the themed exhibitions united under the title Edward Curtis and the North American Indian.

The title is a nod to Curtis’ 20-volume magnum opus The North American Indian, which documented his study of over 80 Native American tribes in the early 20th century.

Involving around 40,000 photographs and 10,000 sound recordings of speech and music of the natives, the monumental work has seen Curtis being referred to as "the principal storyteller of Native American peoples and cultures”.

The American ethnologist also released a 1914 silent film In The Land of the Head Hunters, a fictionalised account of the Kwakwaka’wakw (Kwakiutl) tribe.

The legacy of the American ethnologist and photographed is widely acknowledged today. Photo: Edward Curtis.

Despite the significance of his work, Curtis’ legacy was largely forgotten following his death until the 1960s, however its importance is widely recognised today.

The photo exhibits presented at the three displays in Tbilisi are copies of originals preserved at the Library of Congress in Washington.

Organised by the United States Embassy to Georgia, the Georgian-American University and the three Tbilisi venues, Edward Curtis and the North American Indian will be open for visitors through October 22.