Lango apron

Lango apron
Other views of this artifact:

Accession Number:
North of Lake Kyoga
Cultural Group:
Date Made:
By 1925
Animal Hide Skin , Wood Plant
Stitched , Tied
Belt L = 963 mm, W = 2 to 6 mm; back tail L = 693, W = 17 to 30 mm [RTS 12/8/2004].
15 g
Local Name:
lau [lau ngony?]
Other Owners:
Jack Herbert Driberg
Field Collector:
Jack Herbert Driberg
PRM Source:
Jack Herbert Driberg
Donated 1925
Collected Date:
By 1925
Waist ornament with back 'tail' made from 5 narrow strips of brown animal hide, knotted together to form a belt that can be tied around the waist. The strips are somewhat irregularly cut, with a width that ranges from 2 to 6 mm. A wider rectangular strip of hide has been suspended from the centre of this belt and hangs down as a back tail. This has been attached by folding the top edge over the belt, with a short roughly cut wooden stick wedged under the fold, then the flap stitched down using another narrow hide thong with one end hanging down loose. The bottom end of this tail has 2 v-shaped cuts made into it to create a short fringe with three segments. The hide is yellow to dark brown (Pantone 7510C to 476C) but has a reddish, possibly ochre stained surface on one side (Pantone 499C). There are some traces of reddish brown hair on the same side. The object is complete and intact. The waist band has a length of 963 mm, while the tail is 693 mm long and 30 mm wide at the top and 17 mm wide at the base; the entire object has a weight of 15 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).

The object is currently on display in the Lower Gallery, case 45B display number 5b.

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: [...] 1925.205 [pencil insert] 9 [end insert] - Lau , flexible 'tail' of leather worn hanging down behind from the waist by women who have borne children.
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 -
Lau , leathern 'tail' worn from the waist hanging down behind by women who have borne a child. LANGO tribe, UGANDA PROT. (N. of L. KIOGA). Pres. by J.H. Driberg, 1925 [rectangular metal-edged tag, tied to object; RTS 12/8/2004].

Funded by Arts and Humanities Research Council
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