Lango apron

Lango apron
Other views of this artifact:

Accession Number:
North of Lake Kyoga
Cultural Group:
Date Made:
By 1925
Animal Hide Skin , Iron Metal , Glass , Plant Fibre , Ochre
Beadwork , Stitched , Strung , Tied , Hammered , Bent Twisted
L = 763 mm, L belt body = 510 mm, W belt = 48 mm, W ties = 10.5 mm, Th ties = 1 mm; Blue beads L = 5 mm, diam = 4 mm; white beads L = 2 mm, diam = 3.5 mm; iron beads L = 3 to 4 mm, diam = 5 mm [RTS 28/7/2004].
92.9 g
Local Name:
Other Owners:
Jack Herbert Driberg
Field Collector:
Jack Herbert Driberg
PRM Source:
Jack Herbert Driberg
Donated 1925
Collected Date:
By 1925
Married women's garment made from a rectangular strip of animal hide, folded over at both ends and sewn down with a simple tacking stitch using thin hide thongs. At one end, a narrow strip of hide with orange hair still present in patches has been passed through the loop created by this fold, leaving two long hide ends to serve as belt ties. One of these ends has been loosely knotted near its base. The opposite end has been decorated with a fringe made from 5 short strings of iron disc beads; each bead is made from a narrow rectangular iron piece bent into a loop. There are between 5 and 6 beads on each string; these are heavily encrusted with ochre and some a resinous surface residue and are not clearly distinguishable from one another. The belt body has been edged with a series of glass beads arranged in regular patterns that alternate between 13 groups of long opaque turquoise cylindrical beads, strung side by side with each group consisting of from 3 to 6 beads, and 13 groups of short white ring beads, strung in vertical columns of two beads each (in one case there are 3 beads), then arranged side by side with each group consisting of between 2 and 6 beads. All these beads are threaded onto plant fibre string which is then sewn onto the edges of the belt. The turquoise beads (Pantone 3125C) are made over an opaque white core, similar to beads found amongst the Lotuko (see 1946.8.101). The shorter ends of the belt are also decorated with these beads. The end with the beaded tassels has a row of 6 turquoise beads, arranged in 3 groups of 2 beads with spaces between; these are sewn to the folded over flap of hide at the base of the tassels. The opposite end is decorated with 4 rows of beads stitched on across the width of the belt, covering the fold. The two middle rows consist only of the turquoise beads; the outer two rows alternate 1 turquoise and 1 white bead. There are a further two turquoise beads running at right angles to these rows at the sides. The object is heavily encrusted with red ochre on belt body and partially over bead edging (Pantone 477C). It is nearly complete, but along one edge of this border there are several beads missing - a single blue bead, a group of 2 white beads strung together, and then a row of 3 turquoise beads. The object weighs 92.9 grams and has a total length of 763 mm, with the strip ties extended, while the hide part of the belt body is 510 mm long and 48 mm wide, including the glass bead edging. The ties are 10.5 mm wide and 1 mm thick. A typical blue glass bead is 5 mm long and has a diameter of 4 mm, while the white beads are 2 mm long and have diameters of 3.5 mm, and the iron beads are 3 to 4 mm long and 5 mm in diameter.

Collected by Jack Herbert Driberg in Uganda, North of Lake Kyoga, and donated to the Pitt Rivers Museum in 1925.

This type of garment is said to have been worn by women after the birth of a child, and is called a lau. It was worn at the back of the chip or cip, a fringed string work apron attached to a narrow hide belt; this would hang down from the del, a tail of hide strips that sticks out from the back of the chip , to below the knees (M. Trowell & K.P. Wachsmann, 1953, Tribal Crafts of Uganda, pl. 44.C.3, p. 188). According to Driberg, the lau is given to a woman by the father of her child. He defines lau (plural: La'ni) as 'skin', lau nyar, as the skin apron worn by men and lau ngony as a woman's tail (J.H. Driberg, 1923, The Lango , p. 65; p. 391). Hayley states that the lau “... is put on the woman at the ceremony of tweyo lau ... In The Lango Driberg referred to this strip of leather as a 'tail'. The Lango have translated this into ib (the tail of an animal), and they are furious that Driberg should have written in his book that the Lango have tails just like animals. The lau is not worn by the modern woman who wears clothes, except on certain ceremonial occasions” (T.T.S Hayley, 1947, The Anatomy of Lango Religion and Groups, p. 194). He describes the ceremony of tweyo lau on p. 83, which is seen as a procedure that made a marriage official - usually triggered by the arrival of a child. The lau used in the ceremony is an old one brought by the mother-in-law, made of oribi skin ( amyem ); she also provides the chip to go with it. In his day, women only wore these items for the three or four days of the actual ceremony. They are believed to have magical properties (p. 83-87).

The iron beads on this garment are of the same type seen on 1925.14.5. The blue beads on this object look very similar to the type of cylindrical bead found on 1946.8.101, with opaque white core and a turquoise blue colouring; these are known by the Lotuko as
gwen bor, who are said to have stolen them from the Bor Dinka. Both Lotuko and Bor Dinka value this type of bead highly. The Lango variant of this bead type is cut to a longer length.

Rachael Sparks 25/9/2005.

Primary Documentation:
Accession Book Entry [VII, p. 189] - 1925 [pencil insert] 14 [end insert] J.H. DRIBERG , Esq. c/o the Postmaster, Khartoum. Specimens collected by himself among the LANGO tribe in the UGANDA PROTECTORATE, N. of LAKE KIOGA. Viz: [...] 1925.200 [pencil insert] 4 [end insert] - Married woman's leathern belt, edged with blue & white beads.
Additional Accession Book Entry [VII, p. 25 top, in pencil] - blue numbers not valid & not on specimens. Inserted by an assistant in error.

Old Pitt Rivers Museum label - Married woman's belt. LANGO tribe, UGANDA PROT. (N. of L. KIOGA], Pres. by J.H. Driberg, 1925 [rectangular metal-edged tag, tied to object; RTS 16/6/2004]

Funded by Arts and Humanities Research Council
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