Zande trumpet

Zande trumpet

Accession Number:
[Southern Sudan]
Cultural Group:
Date Made:
?Before 1865
Elephant Tooth Ivory Animal
Carved , Hollowed , Perforated , Polished
L = 840; mouthpiece diam = 39 x 39, embouchure diam = 24; max W bell = 115, th bell lip = 2.8; L proximal end to edge embouchure = 220 mm [RTS 9/9/2005].
> 1000 g
Other Owners:
Collected by John Petherick in 1858 and shipped back to England in 1859. Subsequently acquired by Pitt Rivers, perhaps via auction as Petherick is known to have auctioned some of his collection through Mr Bullock of High Holborn, London, on 27th June 1862
Field Collector:
John Petherick
PRM Source:
Augustus Henry Lane Fox Pitt Rivers founding collection
Donated 1884
Collected Date:
Side-blown trumpet carved from a large yellow coloured elephant's tusk (Pantone 7507C), hollowed out and then highly polished over the exterior. The interior is a dull brown colour (Pantone 7519C) and smooth, while the outer surface of the ivory is covered with tool marks. The trumpet has a solid, pointed proximal end, and a raised mouthpiece, slightly lozenge-shaped in plan view, with a circular embouchure cut into it. This has been located on the side of the body, rather than in line with the concave or convex curving face as is perhaps more common. The rest of the body follows the natural curvature of the parent tusk, tapering out to an oval bell mouth with a narrow, sharp lip. The walls immediately below this lip have been vertically fluted for a depth of around 75 mm. The trumpet is nearly complete, but the bell is cracked and broken around the edges and most of the lip is missing. It has a weight well in excess of 1000 grams, and is 840 mm long. The mouthpiece is 39 mm long and 39 mm wide, while the embouchure has a diameter of 24 mm; the bell end is broken and cannot be fully measured, but has a current maximum width of 115 mm, and the walls are 2.8 mm thick at this point; and the length from embouchure to proximal end is 220 mm.

Collected by John Petherick, who lived in Khartoum from 1853-1858, mounting several trading expeditions into the Sudanese interior during this period. He entered Zande territory for the first time on 24th February 1858, while on his fifth such expedition, visiting the villages of Mundo, Kangamboo and Baranj. This object was probably obtained during this trip, as Petherick did not venture into this region again. His collection was shipped back to England in 1859. It was subsequently acquired by Pitt Rivers, perhaps via auction as Petherick is known to have auctioned some of his collection through Mr Bullock of High Holborn, London, on 27th June 1862 (see the Catalogue of the very interesting collection of arms and implements of war, husbandry, and the chase, and articles of costume and domestic use, procured during several expeditions up the White Nile, Bahr-il-Gazal, and among the various tribes of the country, to the cannibal Neam Nam territory on the Equator, by John Petherick, Esq., H.M. Consul, Khartoum, Soudan ). 38 'hunting horns' were auctioned at this time, 25 of which were specifically described as ivory or elephant, and 7 of which may have been attributable to the Zande. None are described as war horns. The accession book entry gives a price of 45 shillings, which may be the cost of this object at auction; it is not clear what the number 2213 refers to; while this could be a lot number, it does not relate to the 1862 auction. It could also be a numbering system applied by Petherick, although there do not seem to be other records of these types of numbers. Pitt Rivers had clearly acquired this object by 1868, when Wood published it in his Natural History of Man and mentioned it as forming part of the General's Collection. Pitt Rivers may have sent this object to Bethnal Green Museum for display, as part of the first batch of objects sent there, probably in 1874. It was later displayed in the South Kensington Museum, and moved from there to become part of the founding collection of the Pitt Rivers Museum in 1884.

This is by far the heaviest ivory trumpet from the Sudan in the museum collection. Comparable fluting is also seen around the bell end of 1884.112.30, but for a shorter length.

This example was illustrated in J.G. Wood, 1868,
The Natural History of Man Volume I, p. 493 (left), with the caption 'War trumpets', and he commented that: "some of the officers, or leaders, have large war trumpets made of elephant's tusks... they are sounded from the side, like a flute", illustrating examples made in a single piece, or of wood and ivory bound together" (op. cit. p. 493). Larken also discusses this type of object: "The powerful Vungara Chief Ndoromo, grandfather of Zungumbia of the Tambura District, had a magnificent trumpet made out of an elephant tusk, carved and lapped in skin... No doubt these trumpets were used in Court ceremonial, for they seem only to have been in the possession of the paramount Chiefs" (P.M. Larken, 1927, "Impressions of the Azande", Sudan Notes and Records X , p. 105).

Rachael Sparks 19/9/2005

Primary Documentation:
Accession Book V entry [p. 51] MUSIC TRUMPETS [insert] 1884.112 [end insert] [insert] 27 [end insert] 3028 - Large ditto [side-blast trumpet] of elephant tusk, raised lip in relief about mouth. NYAM NYAM, C. A[FRICA] Petherick coll. (2313C 45/-).
Additional Accession Book V Entry [p. 51a] - 1884.12.27 Number given HLF. l[ength] 83 cms (130.J.34).
Collectors Miscellaneous XI Accession Book entry [p. 193] - PETHERICK, Consul [p. 197] [insert] 1884.112.27 [end insert]. 3028 (2313c). Large elephant tusk side-blast trumpet. NIAM NIAM. C[ENTRAL] A[FRICA].
Black book entry [p. 48] - C[ase] 74. 1282. Ivory trumpet with side hole. Neam-nam [sic]. Obtained by Consul Petherick (3028). [insert] 1884.112.27 [end insert].
Delivery Catalogue I entry [p. 6] - Musical Instruments. Ivory war trumpet (Central Africa) 3028. Cases 9 & 10.
Balfour Catalogue: Red numbers Musical Instruments - [p. 2] 130. MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS, WIND. [p. 244] J - TRUMPETS. [p. 276] [insert] 1884.112.27 [end insert] P.R. coll. 1282 [insert] black [end insert]. 3028. Very large sideblast trumpet, made from an elephants tusk; the surface roughly hacked to reduce it, not polished - mouth hole drilled through towards the solid apex, and furnished with a raised lip all round. Neam Nam tribe E. Central Africa, Obt[aine]d by Consul Petherick. "Ivory war trumpet, used by Neam Nam tribe, Central Africa, Petherick's collection 2313, cf. - 45/-" v. Engel 'S[outh].K[ensington]. Mus[eum].' p. 153. [insert] P.R.V.51, Coll. Misc. XI. 197. [end insert].
Card Catalogue Entry - E. CENTRAL AFRICA, NEAM NEAM TRIBE. 1282 black/3028/Petherick 2313. Very large side-blast trumpet of elephant's tusk; surface roughly hacked to reduce it, not polished; mouth hole drilled towards the solid apex, with raised rim all round. "Ivory war trumpet, used by Neam Neam Tribe, Central Africa, Petherick's collection, 2313 cf. - 45/-". Consul Petherick's coll. purch. by Original Pitt Rivers Collection which was presented to University in 1883.
Pitt Rivers Museum label - There is a large rectangular patch on the side of the object, where a paper label was once stuck to the surface, and a much smaller rectangular patch nearby that probably had a PR number on it; both labels are now missing; AFRICA, Sudan, ZANDE tribe. Ivory side-blown trumpet. Coll. J. Petherick 1858, 1884.112.27 [plastic coated label, tied to object; RTS 7/9/2005].
Written on object - E. CENTRAL AFRICA, NIAM-NIAM. 1884.112.27 [RTS 7/9/2005].

Display History:
Displayed in Bethnal Green and South Kensington Museums (V&A)[AP]

Publication History:
J.G. Wood, 1868, The Natural History of Man Volume I, p. 493 (left), with caption 'War trumpets'.

Funded by Arts and Humanities Research Council
Help | About | Bibliography