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 , Plant Fibre
Stitched , Tied , Strung , Beadwork , Hammered , Bent
L = 895 mm, L hide body = 612 mm, W hide body = 30 mm, or 38 mm with beads; bead diam = 7 mm, bead th = 4.5 mm, fastening thong w = 6 mm, thong th = 1 mm [RTS 16/6/2004].
144.6 g
Local Name:
Other Owners:
Jack Herbert Driberg
Field Collector:
Jack Herbert Driberg
PRM Source:
Jack Herbert Driberg
Donated 1925
Collected Date:
By 1925
Narrow rectangular strip of animal hide with a few tough reddish brown hairs present on one side. One end of this has been cut into three short rectangular strips and doubled over. Two lengths of twisted plant fibre cord have been strung with iron beads, and sewn through the belt end at this point, creating two fastening loops and tying these short flaps down. There may have originally been three loops at this point, as the belt end appears to have a third hole through it, adjacent to the other two. At the other end, a short piece of hide, 92 mm long, has been sewn in place with broad hide stitches, leaving a raised band on both sides where the two pieces of skin overlap. The other end of this has been doubled over and sewn in place, creating a loop through which a narrow hide thong has been passed, with the loose ends currently knotted together. This was presumably used to secure the lau to the waist. This doubled over area has been decorated with a group of 16 iron beads, strung on a cord to form a roughly lentoid or oval shape, and fastened in place with hide stitches at the top and bottom. The ends of this hide strip are knotted on the inside face of the object; one then continues for another 82 mm before tapering to a point. The rest of the garment has been decorated with an edging made from a series of similar iron beads, made from narrow rectangular strips of iron bent into loops with the ends touching. These are sewn in place using thick twisted plant fibre cord that passes through the centre of each bead and then through a series of holes punched along the edge of the skin. The bead edging runs along each long edge. The object is largely complete, although the hide is in poor condition with several holes worn through the surface, and both it and the beads seem to be coated with a reddish coloured earth or ochre (Pantone 7525C). The total length of the object, including the fastening thongs, is 895 mm; the body has a length of 612 mm and a width of 30 mm (hide only), or 38 mm (including bead edging). A typical bead has a diameter of 7 mm and a height of 4.5 mm, while the hide fastening is 6 mm wide and 1 mm thick. The object weighs 144.6 grams.

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).

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: [...] 1925.201 [pencil insert] 5 [end insert] - ditto [Married woman's leathern belt], edged with native iron beads.
Additional Accession Book Entry [VII, p. 25 top, in pencil] - blue numbers not valid & not on specimens. Inserted by an assistant in error.

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

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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