Dinka or Shilluk arm ornament

Dinka or Shilluk arm ornament
Other views of this artifact:

Accession Number:
[Southern Sudan]
Cultural Group:
?Dinka ?Shilluk
Date Made:
?Before 1865
Iron Metal
Forged (Metal) , Hammered , Incised
L = 77 mm, W = 55 mm, W band = 14 mm, Th = 4.5 mm [RTS 24/3/2004].
70.6 g
Other Owners:
Collected in Sudan by John Petherick, sometime between 1853 and 1859, or 1861 to 1865. Subsequently acquired by Pitt Rivers by 1868, perhaps via auction as Petherick is known to have auctioned some of his collection through Mr Bullock of High Holborn, Lon
Field Collector:
John Petherick
PRM Source:
Augustus Henry Lane Fox Pitt Rivers founding collection
Donated 1884
Collected Date:
1853 - 1859 or 1861 - 1865
Penannular arm ornament made from an iron band, rectangular in section, bent into an oval loop with open ends, 22 mm apart, with the body shaped so that the inner surface is convex, where the object rests against the wrist or arm, and the outer face strongly concave. The upper and lower edges remain flat. This band tapers in to either end, which has been hammered back upon itself to form a raised knob. There are a series of irregular grooves along the inner face; these are probably a flaw in the original piece rather than a deliberately added feature. The upper and lower edges have been decorated with a series of short incised notches; these originally ran all the way around the circumference, but have been largely worn away near the centre of each side. The object is complete and intact, and currently a silver gray colour (Pantone 422C). The bangle is 77 mm long by 55 mm wide across its outside edges, and 69 mm long across its inside edges; the band from which it has been made is 14 mm wide and 4.5 mm thick, and it weighs 70.6 grams.

Collected in Sudan by John Petherick. Petherick was based in Khartoum between 1853 and March 1859, during which period he mounted five trading expeditions into Southern Sudan. He encountered the Shilluk along the west bank of the Bahr el Abiad, stopping at two of their villages, Kaka and Gova. He also traded with at least two main groups of Dinka during this period; one group in the area east of the Bahr el Abiad and north of the Sobat river and another group, whom he calls the ‘Raik’, around the Bahr el Ghazal/Jur rivers. Any objects acquired in this period would have been shipped back to England with his other collections in 1859, and probably sold at his 1862 auction (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 ); this included a number of Nilotic ornaments. In 1861 Petherick returned to Khartoum, and mounted an expedition which travelled south via the Bahr el Jebel and then overland to Gondokoro. Petherick employed a Shilluk interpreter on this trip, and may have encountered Dinka groups en-route (such as the ‘Kytch’). Any further material acquired during this period would have been shipped back to England in 1865, and seems to have been sold at a second auction. It was acquired by Pitt Rivers, who 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.

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] 44 [end insert] - Similar bangle [c-shaped iron bangle, quadrangular in section] but more oval, the points bent back, lunate section [Drawing] ?SHILLUK or ?DINKA. ditto [Petherick coll.] (106) .
Collectors Miscellaneous XI Accession Book entry [p. 193] - PETHERICK, Consul [p. 195] [insert] 1884.82.44 [end insert] ditto [C shaped iron bangle] but more oval [than 1884.82.43]: points recurved; crescent section. ?SHILLUK. ?DINKA. (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. 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 tribes catalogue card [RTS 23/7/2004].
Old Pitt Rivers Museum label - C shaped bangle of curved section with tips beaten back. ?SHILLUK, ?DINKA. Petherick coll. P.R. Coll. Black (1619) (106) [tied to object; RTS 24/3/2004].
Written on object - 106 1619 [on inner face], CENTRAL AFRICA, PETHERICK [on outer face; RTS 24/3/2004].

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

Funded by Arts and Humanities Research Council
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