Lango wheel trap

Lango wheel trap
Other views of this artifact:

Accession Number:
Uganda Sudan
Northern Uganda [Unyoro]
Cultural Group:
Date Made:
By 1920
Plant Thorn , Plant Fibre , Wood Plant
Bent , Bound
Diam = 218 mm, Th = 24.5 mm; Diam wheel frame = 205 mm, W spike base = 7 mm, diam spike body = 3 to 4 mm, W fibre strips = 10 to 15 mm [RTS 30/6/2004].
165.8 g
Local Name:
Other Owners:
Donated to the Pitt Rivers Museum by Charles Delme-Radcliffe, via the British Museum, on November 1920. Delme-Radcliffe may also have been the collector; he served in the military in Uganda from 1898 and was the British Commisioner for delimitation of the
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 is 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 over 100 mimosa thorns passed through the gap between the rings, their broader, roughly finished and irregularly shaped ends left protruding from the outside edge, and their sharp pointed tips 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 by the noose that would have accompanied this object. The wheel framework was secured by winding flat strips of reddish brown plant fibre, possibly palm or banana, around the two rings. Each of these strips was split just above each spoke, usually into two parts, with the ends produced then passing around each spike to secure both it and the surrounding frame. The wheel is largely complete, but several thorns have broken at their tips, bodies, or bases. The fibre binding is a reddish brown colour (Pantone 470C), while the spikes are a lighter yellowish cream (Pantone 7506C). The wheel has an overall diameter of 218 mm, and is 24.5 mm thick; the circular frame has a diameter of 205 mm, while each spike measures around 7 mm across its base, and has a body diameter of 3 to 4 mm. The fibre binding strips range from 10 to 15 mm in width, and the wheel trap weighs 165.8 grams overall.

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 1920.61.1, also attributed to the Lango. The ends of the thorns are much more roughly finished on this example than on 1920.61.1.

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.

Old Pitt Rivers Museum label - Leg-trap for smaller game-animals. LANGO, N. OF UNYORO (SHULI country), collected by Delmé Radcliffe. Pres. by him, 1920 [Oval label with metal ring, tied to object; RTS 17/6/2004].

Funded by Arts and Humanities Research Council
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