Nuer neck amulet

Nuer neck amulet
Other views of this artifact:

Accession Number:
[Southern Sudan] Wahda Lake No
Cultural Group:
Date Made:
By 1903
Wood Plant , String
Carved , Perforated , Twisted , Tied
L = 467 mm, diam cord = 1 to 1.5 mm, pendant 1: L = 21, W = 13.2, Th = 12.2 mm; pendant 2: L = 24, W = 13.6 mm, Th = 12.5 mm; pendant 3: L = 18, W = 12.7 mm, Th = 12.2 mm; pendant 4 (marked with accession no.): L = 22.8 mm, W = 13 mm, Th = 12.6 mm [RTS 22
12.6 g
Field Collector:
Donald Gunn
PRM Source:
Donald Gunn
Donated 1903
Collected Date:
By 1903
Necklet made from a light brown twisted hide cord (Pantone 7508C), doubled up and knotted together at the top. This has been strung with four wooden pendants that hang in a row at the base; each pendant has been made from a short length of twig with its rough yellowish brown surface bark left in place (Pantone 7509C). These pendants have been only slightly worked, with the ends cut roughly flat and stained a darker brown colour (Pantone black 7C), and a hole added through the body near the upper end. In addition, one pendant also has a hole partially bored into one of its flat ends. These holes are blackened around the edges and were probably burnt through using a heated tool. The object is complete, although one length of cord has begun to separate into its component strands and is slightly frayed. It weighs 12.6 grams, and has a length of 467 mm as strung; the cord has a diameter of 1 to 1.5 mm, while the pendants have lengths of 21, 24, 18 and 22.8 mm respectively, and diameters of 13.2 by 12.2 mm, 13.6 by 12.5 mm, 12.7 by 12.2 mm and 13 by 12.6 mm respectively.

Collected by Donald Gunn from Lake No in the Southern Sudan and presented to the Pitt Rivers Museum in 1903. Gunn appears to have collected Shilluk material from the ‘White Nile’, ‘Upper Nile’, Kodok and Bor, Nuer material from around Lake No, Dinka material from the ‘White Nile’ and Arab material from Omdurman.

Gunn collected two other wooden Nuer necklaces of similar concept, but using longer wooden 'beads' (see 1903.16.124- 125). Somewhat similar short wooden beads are also seen on a Bongo necklet collected by Petherick (1884.75.32). They may have an amuletic function.

Rachael Sparks 18/9/2005.

Primary Documentation:
Accession Book Entry [III, p. 110] - 1903 [pencil insert] 16 [end insert] DR D. GUNN Esq., M.B. 40 Dover Street, London, W. June. [...] [p. 114, pencil insert] 127 [end insert] - Nuer necklet with wooden beads, ib[idem] [LAKE NO, UPPER NILE].

Card Catalogue Entry - UPPER NILE, LAKE NO, DINKA TRIBE. Necklet with wooden beads. d.d. D. Gunn, 1903 [Note incorrect cultural attribution; RTS 9/3/2004].

Old Pitt Rivers Museum label - NUER necklet. LAKE NO, UPPER NILE. Pres. by Dr D. Gunn, 1903 [rectangular metal-edged tag, tied to object; RTS 22/6/2004].

Funded by Arts and Humanities Research Council
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