PORTMAN, Maurice Vidal

PORTMAN, Maurice Vidal. London, Ontario 21.3.1860 — Axbridge, Somerset 14.2.1935. British (of Canada) Naval Officer and Anthropologist in India. Son of Hon. Maurice Berkeley P. and Helen Vidal Harris. Joined Royal Marine in the age of 16. Commissioner of the Andamans in 1879–99. He had health problems, retired as invalid in 1901 and spent the rest of his life in England. Unmarried.

Portman conducted active research on tribal languages and customs, achieved a large collection of ethnographic objects (now in British Museum) and took numerous photographs. Quite many of them are of naked males. Using the unscrupulous methods of early anthropology he kidnapped some people from North Sentinel to Port Blair to study them. This caused much hostility against outsiders in the island and eventually led to its complete isolation..

Publications: “On the Andaman Islands and the Andamanese”, JRAS N.S. 13, 1881, 469-489.

Manual of the Andamanese Languages. 229 p. L. 1887.

– “Andamanese Music, with Notes on Oriental Music and Musical Instruments”, JRAS N.S. 20, 1888, 181-218 (with notations and texts of songs, no translations).

– “Notes on the Andamanese”, JRAnthrInst 25, 1896, 361-371.

Notes of the Languages of the South Andaman Group of Languages. 8+389 p. 191 p. of maps. Calcutta 1898.

A History of Our Relations with the Andamanese. 1-2. 12+875 p. Calcutta 1899.

Sources: https://web.archive.org/web/20120805204050/http://www.andaman.org/BOOK/app-a/a-portman.htm; Wikipedia.


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