Murle arm ornament

Murle arm ornament
Other views of this artifact:

Accession Number:
[Southern Sudan] ?Upper Nile ?Jonglei
Cultural Group:
Murle [Djibba]
Date Made:
?Before 1865
Iron Metal
Forged (Metal) , Hammered , Incised
L = 69.7 mm, W = 52.6 mm, W band = 38.5 mm, Th = 1 mm [RTS 24/3/2004].
104.6 g
Other Owners:
Collected and brought back to England by John Petherick sometime between 1853 and 1865. Acquired by Pitt Rivers by 1868 (when Wood published the object and tells us that it was part of Lane Fox's collection). Pitt Rivers sent this object to Bethnal Green
Field Collector:
John Petherick
PRM Source:
Augustus Henry Lane Fox Pitt Rivers founding collection
Donated 1884
Collected Date:
1853 - 1859 or 1861 - 1865
Penannular bracelet made from a broad iron band that has been bent into an oval loop with wide open ends, 27 mm apart. The band is slightly thicker at the centre, then thins to either edge. The ends have been cut straight. This gives the object slightly convex sides. The outer surface is covered with incised decoration, somewhat irregularly applied, consisting of two sections, each framed by double vertical lines at either end, with a blank area left at the centre of the bracelet between the two sections. These sections are decorated with a series of roughly parallel bands running around the circumference, comprising single, double and triple bands of hatching. The two sections are not identical in the arrangement of these bands. The object is complete and intact, with the inner surface somewhat dull and the outer surface polished to a bright silver gray colour (Pantone 421C). The bracelet is 69.7 mm long by 52.6 mm wide across its outside edges, and 64 mm long across its inside edges, with the band being 38.5 mm wide and 1 mm thick. It weighs 104.6 grams.

Collected by John Petherick in the Southern Sudan. The collection date is not specified, but a number of Murle items were sold at his 1862 auction, and this is quite likely to have been included amongst them. 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 ). Certainly, Pitt Rivers is known to have purchased several items at this auction. If this is the case, the item would have been collected sometime between 1853 and 1858, and shipped back to England in 1859. Pitt Rivers had definitely acquired the item by 1868, when it was published by Wood and described as being part of his collection (see below). He sent this object to Bethnal Green Museum for display, as part of the first batch of objects sent there, probably in 1874. This object was later displayed in the South Kensington Museum, and transferred from there to become part of the founding collection of the Pitt Rivers Museum in 1884.

Petherick appears to have encountered the 'Djibba' during his first trading expedition in 1853, when he travelled up the Sobat River. However as he established a trading camp amongst the Dinka in this region, subsequent contact with the 'Djibba' through his agents seems likely. Petherick locates the Djibba, or Jibba, somewhere along the Sobat River or the tributaries running into it from the east, which suggests a location in either the administrative districts of either Upper Nile or Jonglei, or across the border into modern Ethiopia (J. Petherick, 1861, Egypt, the Sudan and Central Africa, Map; note that the geographical coordinates given for this group in his 1860 article seem to be inaccurate). Ajibba is the Anuak name for this group, who are also known as the Murle (B.A. Lewis 1972, The Murle , 2).

This object was published in: J.G. Wood, 1868,
The Natural History of Man Volume I, p. 520 no. 6.

Rachael Sparks 30/9/2005.

Primary Documentation:
Accession Book V entry [p. 1] - [insert] 1884.82 [end insert] PERSONAL ORNAMENTS (contd from Vol. IV) METAL BANGLES, BRACELETS, ANKLETS [insert] 24 [end insert] - Iron penannular bracelet made of a wide band, engraved: worn by warriors. ibid [JIBBA, E.C. AFRICA]. Petherick coll. (106) (1619 black).
Collectors Miscellaneous XI Accession Book entry [p. 193] - PETHERICK, Consul [p. 195] [insert] 1884.82.24 [end insert]. Wide iron bracelet [Drawing] engraved, worn by warriors. DJIBBA. E[AST] C[ENTRAL] AFRICA (P.R. 106/1619).
Black book entry [p. 67] - 1619. Bracelets (12), iron. Dinka & Schillook tribes, C. Africa. One a warrior's sharp edged iron bracelet. Djibba tribe, Africa [see 1884.82.23]. p. 110. [insert] 1884.78.93, 94, 95; 1884.82.23-28, 34 + 1884.82.43, 44 [end insert]. [Note that 1884.82.28 is actually PR 104 and does not belong to this group, while there is an additional object not listed here that should be added (to be accessioned), RTS 2/4/2004].
Added Black book entry [p. 67a] - Iron and bronze penannular knob ended bracelets Indian in form are found in Africa having been made and introduced for trade purposes by Birmingham firms.
Delivery Catalogue II entry [p. 300] - Personal Ornaments of various Nations [p. 306] [insert] 1884,78.93-95, 82.23-29, 34, 43-4 [end insert] 12 iron bracelets (Central Africa), 1619, Case 74, 345. [Note that while 12 bracelets are described, cross references are given to 13 objects. Of these, 1884.78.28 is marked with PR reference 104, and 1884.78.29 is PR 95/8386, meaning both should be omitted from the group, while there is an additional object marked with PR 106/1619 that should be added to it (this still needs to be accessioned). This makes a total of 12 items actually belonging to this group; RTS 2/4/2004].
Card Catalogue Entry - There is no further information on the catalogue card [RTS 7/4/2004].
Old Pitt Rivers Museum label - Wide bracelet of iron, engraved, worn by warriors. DJIBBA. N.E.C. AFRICA. Petherick coll. P.R. coll (1619( (106) [tied to object; RTS 23/3/2004].
Written on object - DJIBBA WARRIOR'S BRACELET. CENTRAL AFRICA. PETHERICK. 106.1619 [black ink] 1884.82.24 [white ink; RTS 23/3/2004].

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

Publication History:
J.G. Wood, 1868, The Natural History of Man Volume I, p. 520 no. 6 [RTS 23/3/2004].

Funded by Arts and Humanities Research Council
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