Lango wheel trap

Lango wheel trap
Other views of this artifact:

Accession Number:
Northern Uganda [Unyoro]
Cultural Group:
Date Made:
By 1920
Plant Thorn , Plant Fibre , Wood Plant
Bent , Bound
Diam = 233 mm, Diam circular frame = 225, Th = 33 mm; diam spike end = 5 mm, diam spike body = 3 to 4 mm; W binding strips = 10 to 15 mm [RTS 30/6/2004].
273.2 g
Local Name:
Other Owners:
Obtained from Charles Delme-Radcliffe through the British Museum.
Field Collector:
Charles Delme-Radcliffe?
PRM Source:
Charles Delme-Radcliffe per British Museum
Donated November 1920
Collected Date:
By 1920
Wheel trap, of a type usually used in conjunction with a noose. This is circular and made from two wooden rods, each bent into a loop of similar diameter to form the framework of the wheel. These rings were then placed together, and a series of mimosa thorns were passed through the gap between the rings, their broader, flat cut ends left protruding from the outside edge, and their sharp pointed ends meeting at or near the centre of the object, where they overlap one another. This forms the hub of the trap, which would break when trodden on by an animal, to leave its hoof trapped by the surviving spikes and held firm by the noose that accompanied this object. The framework was then secured by winding flat strips of plant fibre, possibly palm or banana, around the two rings. Each of these strips was split just above each spoke, with the two or more ends produced then passing around each spike, securing both it and the surrounding frame. The wheel is mostly complete, but four spikes have broken at their bases and the tip of at least one spike is missing. The wooden rods are not visible under the fibre binding, which is a reddish brown colour (Pantone 161C); the thorns are a lighter yellowish cream colour (Pantone 7506C). The circular frame has a diameter of 225 mm; the wheel, including the protruding spikes, has a diameter of 233 mm, and is 33 mm thick. Each spike measures around 5 mm across its base, with a body diameter of 3 to 4 mm. The fibre binding strips range from 10 to 15 in width, and the wheel trap weighs 273.2 grams in total.

Probably collected by Charles Delme-Radcliffe while serving in Uganda, sometime between 1898 and 1904 (
Who Was Who, 2001). Donated to the Pitt Rivers Museum by him, via the British Museum, on November 1920. The object is said to have come from 'Shuli country', north of Unyoro, and was used for catching 'smaller' game animals.

Driberg describes this type of trap as follows: "The commonest snare is the
otaich, which is constructed of the long sharp thorns of the acacia or of thin pointed sticks.... It is strongly made with a double row of thorns, and is placed in a game run over a small hole which has been dug out to fit it, and is operated in conjunction with a cord, one end of which forms a noose placed under the thorns, the other end being fastened to a hidden log. The animal on getting its foot in tightens the noose, and as it is irritated by the thorns tightens it still more, the log preventing it from going any distance and leaving a trail which is easily followed" (J.H. Driberg, 1923, The Lango, pp 118-119). K.G. Lindblom did a study of wheel traps, which are used by a number of Sudanese groups, including the Nuer, Lango, Acholi, Bari and Baggara, for catching antelopes, but also larger animals such as giraffe and rhinoceros - with the size of the animal determining the size of the trap (K.G. Lindblom, 1928, The Spiked Wheel-trap and its Distribution, Statens Etnografiska Museum, Smärre Meddelanden 5).

For a similar wheel trap, see 1920.61.2, also attributed to the Lango.

This object is currently on display in the Upper Gallery, case 53A.

Rachael Sparks 28/8/2005.

Primary Documentation:
Accession Book Entry [VI, p. 193] - 1920 [pencil insert] 61 [end insert] DELME RADCLIFFE Nov[ember]. [pencil insert] 1-2 [end insert] - [ 1 of] 2 circular traps, ring-shaped & set with mimosa thorns, for trapping the smaller game-animals. Set over a small pit in the ground; the animals treading on the trap have their legs caught and held by the thorns. LANGO, N. OF UNYORO (SHULI COUNTRY), E. CENT[RAL]. AFRICA. Received through the British Museum.
Added Accession Book Entry [page opposite 193] - 1920.61.1. Number given MdeA [red biro] A22.F31.19-20.

Card Catalogue Entry - There is no further information on the catalogue card [RTS 24/5/2004].

Old Pitt Rivers Museum label - AFRICA UGANDA/ 1920.61.1 [small circular metal-edged tag, tied to object, RTS 4/6/2004]

Display History:
Current display label - EAST CENTRAL AFRICA, NORTHERN UGANDA,, LANGO. Circular trap set with mimosa thorns for trapping smaller game animals. It was laid over a pit in the ground, the animals treading on the trap had their legs caught and held by the thorns. Donated by D. Radcliffe. 1920.61.1 [in case U.53.A, RTS 4/6/2004].

Funded by Arts and Humanities Research Council
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