Shilluk club

Shilluk club
Other views of this artifact:

Accession Number:
[Southern Sudan]
Cultural Group:
Date Made:
?Before 1874
Wood Plant , Animal Hide Skin
Carved , Stained , Polished
L = 908, max diam = 37.7 x 35; sheath L = 142.8, diam hole = 3 mm [RTS 9/5/2005].
667.5 g
Other Owners:
Pitt Rivers sent this object to Bethnal Green/ South Kensington Museums for display sometime between 1874 and 1884. This object was listed in the Delivery Catalogue as having been transferred from South Kensington Museum in 1884
PRM Source:
Augustus Henry Lane Fox Pitt Rivers founding collection
Donated 1884
Collected Date:
?Prior to 1874
Narrow club carved from a single piece of wood and consisting of a pointed head, with the body gently swelling out below to reach its maximum diameter one third the way down the length of the body, before tapering in to a point at the butt. This has been covered with a cylindrical sheath of yellow animal hide (Pantone 7509C), cut from an animal's tail and shrunk in place to fit tightly over the wood, which has been stained a reddish brown colour (Pantone 469C) and polished. Although the actual butt is only visible at its tip, there is a bulge some 80 mm from the end that probably represents shaping of the shaft beneath, possibly phallic. Both sheath and wood have been pierced just above the tip, perhaps to fasten some kind of decorative tassel or carrying loop, although none is currently attached to the object. The club is complete, but has some cracks running along the length of the wood; there is also a hole in the upper part of the hide butt sheath. It has a weight of 667.5 grams and is 908 mm long, with a maximum diameter of 37.7 by 35 mm; the hide sheath is 142.8 mm long, and pierced by a hole that is 3 mm in diameter.

The original collector for this object has not been specified, although John Petherick must be one possibility. It was sent to the Bethnal Green Museum for display by Pitt Rivers, probably in 1874, and
later displayed in the South Kensington Museum, being transferred from there to become part of the founding collection of the Pitt Rivers Museum in 1884.

Rachael Sparks 30/9/2005.

Primary Documentation:
Accession Book IV entry [p. 15] - [insert] 3-figure numbers are P.R. printed catalogue of weapons numbers [end insert] [insert] 1884.12 [end insert] WEAPONS CLUBS [insert] 15 [end insert] - 362 - Club of yellow wood with leather grip, slightly expanding to the blunt pointed end. SHILLUK.
Additional Accession Book IV Entry [page opposite 15] - [drawing].
Delivery Catalogue II entry [p. 202] - Development of mushroom headed and other forms of clubs. Australian, N. American etc etc. [p. 203] - Club, wood, plain. Central Africa. 362. Screen 12 [cases?] 246 & 247.
Pitt Rivers Catalogue Entry (1874) [p. 63] - No 362 [1884.12.15], the club of the Shillooks, Nos 363 [1884.12.17] and 364 [1884.12.18] corresponds in form to Nos 330, 331 and 332 [1884.12.11, 50, 77 respectively]. [p. 73] SCREEN 12. CLUBS. [p. 75] 362. SHILLOOK CLUB. Central Africa. With a swell in the middle corresponding in form to Nos 330, 331 and 332.
Card Catalogue Entry - There is no further information on the tribes or clubs catalogue cards [RTS 23/7/2004].
Pitt Rivers Museum label - 362. SHIL[...]OOK CLUB. CENTRAL AFRICA. WITH A SWELL IN THE MIDDLE CORRESPONDING IN FORM TO NOS. 330, 331 AND 332 [rectangular paper label stuck to surface]; AFRICA, Sudan, Shilluk tribe. Wooden club with hide grip. Pitt Rivers founding collection 1884. 1884.12.15 [plastic coated label, tied to object; RTS 10/5/2005].
Written on object - SHILLUK, C. AFRICA. P.R. coll. ..... (362) HB cat XXXVII [RTS 6/4/2005].

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

Funded by Arts and Humanities Research Council
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