Zande rattle

Zande rattle
Other views of this artifact:

Accession Number:
1930.86.60 .1
[Southern Sudan]
Cultural Group:
Date Made:
By 1930
Iron Metal , Wood Plant , Animal Hide Skin
Forged (Metal) , Hammered , Bent , Perforated , Carved , Tied
Total L = 230; larger bell W = 95.8, L = 19.5, depth = 26.5; smaller bell W = 77, L = 20, depth = 20.5; handle L = 201; handle head L = 42, W = 53, th = 24; shaft W = 24, th = 21.6; thong W = 9, th = 0.5 mm [RTS 6/9/2005].
182.6 g
Other Owners:
Collected by Evans-Pritchard himself during his fieldwork amongst the Zande, which took place during 1927, part of 1928 and 1929 and for several months during 1930 [CM; RTS 6/7/2004]. Purchased from Edward Evans-Pritchard for the PRM by Henry Balfour on 3
Field Collector:
Edward Evan Evans-Pritchard
PRM Source:
Edward Evan Evans-Pritchard
Purchased 31 December 1930
Collected Date:
1927 - 1930
Vessel rattle consisting of two pellet bells mounted onto the top of a wooden handle. One bell is slightly larger than the other, but they have a similar form, made from an oval sheet of iron, doubled over at the centre to form a crescent-shaped body with lentoid plan view that encloses a small cuboid iron pellet. The edges of the bell have been pressed in at either end, leaving a narrow slit running across the mouth. Each bell has been perforated with two holes across the back, which rests across the top of the handle. The handle itself is carved from a single piece of wood, and consists of a rectangular head offset from a cylindrical shaft with oval section; this shows little signs of wear, particularly at the top where the bells normally rub against the surface. Holes have also been bored down either side of the head, using a heated tool that has left scorch marks on the shaft below. 2 narrow hide thongs have been threaded up one hole, through the back of each bell, and down the other side, then secured around the handle with a knot. The handle is a yellowish brown colour (Pantone 729C); the iron is a matt grey with traces of its original metallic silver colour (Pantone 877C) and the thong is yellow (Pantone 7507C). The rattle is complete, but the bells show signs of rust as well as some surface flaws in the metal; they are probably older than the handle. It has a weight of 182.6 grams and a total length of 230 mm. The larger of the 2 bells is 95.8 mm wide, 19.5 mm long and 26.5 mm deep, while the smaller bell measures 77 by 20 by 20.5 mm; the handle head is 42 mm long, 53 mm wide and 24 mm thick, while the handle shaft is 24 mm wide and 21.6 mm thick; the total length of the handle is 201 mm, and the hide thong has a width of 9 mm and thickness of 0.5 mm.

Collected by Evans-Pritchard himself during his fieldwork amongst the Zande, which took place during 1927, part of 1928 and 1929 and for several months during 1930. Purchased by the Pitt Rivers Museum on on 31 December 1930.

This rattle was part of a pair; for the other example, see 1930.86.60.2, and for a similar pair, one with a single bell at the top, see 1931.66.4-5.

These types of rattle were hand-held, and seem to have been used in ceremonial dances or as musical accompaniment for songs. Evans-Pritchard describes how Zande witchdoctors prepare for a dance; they tie a string of nut clapper bells around their waist, and bunches of orange seeds around legs, ankles and sometimes arms, and hold these rattles in their hands, shaking them up and down during the performance. "As he dances each witch-doctor is in himself a complete orchestra, which rattles and rings and bangs to the rhythm of the drums" (
E.E. Evans-Pritchard, 1937, Witchcraft, Oracles and Magic among the Azande , pp 157-158; see also pls XIV-XVII). Several images in the Pitt Rivers Museum photographic archive show this type of rattle in use by a group of abinza (witch-doctors, singular binza ) during the do avure, a ceremony that took place as part of the initiation of a new member (see 1998.341.563), as well as by 'song leaders' (1998.341.182 and 1998.341.297) .

Rachael Sparks & Chris Morton 19/9/2005.

Primary Documentation:
Accession Book Entry [BIV, p. 138] - 1930 [insert] 86 [end insert] E.E. EVANS PRITCHARD 31 Dec. Specimens collected by himself in the EASTERN SUDAN, etc. [...] [p. 139a, insert] 60 [end insert] - Pair of dance-rattles, with [insert] 2 [end insert] elongated pellet-bells attached to wooden handles, AZANDE. [...] [Base of p. 139, total of items 1930.86.1-65] - P[ai]d by cheque 31 Dec £ 25-0-0 .
Added Accession Book Entry [page opposite 138] - 1930.86 See Related Documents File for letter from Henry Balfour to Evans-Pritchard concerning the purchase of this collection. [p. 139a] - 1930.86.60 Number given - LW.

Card Catalogue Entry - There is no further information on the tribes catalogue card [RTS 3/2/2004].

Pitt Rivers Museum label - AFRICA, Sudan. Zande tribe. Vessel rattle with 2 iron pellet bells on wooden handle. d.d. E.E. Evans-Pritchard 1930.86.60.1 [plastic coated label, tied to object; RTS 6/9/2005].

Written on object - Azande [pencil]; AZANDE, BAHR EL GHAZAL. Evans Pritchard coll. Pur. 31.12.1930 [ink; RTS 6/9/2005].

Related Documents File - This contains a letter from Balfour to Evans-Pritchard, dated 31 December 1930 that specifies the objects which he would like to purchase for the Pitt Rivers Museum, and suggests a price of £25, which was one quarter of his annual budget. The list matches the objects ultimately accessioned quite closely. 1930.86.60 appears on his list as "2 rattles (Zande)". This letter also mentions rejecting a number of items; these may relate to an undated list in the file of 48 objects, which do not seem to match accessioned material.
RDF 1930.86 also contains a letter from Evans-Pritchard to Mr. Malcolm dated 12 December 1930, offering him some 81 Zande and Nuer objects. As Malcolm was curator of the Wellcome Historical Medical Museum, it seems unlikely that these objects were ever sent to the Pitt Rivers Museum and this letter is only useful as background for Evans-Pritchard's attritudes to the intended future use of his material, and as evidence for the temporary storage of these objects in Professor Seligman's office in the London School of Economics at the time [RTS 18/8/2005].

Funded by Arts and Humanities Research Council
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