Nuer tassel

Nuer tassel
Other views of this artifact:

Accession Number:
[Southern Sudan]
Cultural Group:
Date Made:
By 1931
Animal Hair , Animal Tail , Wood Plant , Plant Fibre
Twisted , Knotted , Looped
L = 330 mm, L tassel hair = 162 mm, diam top tail = 16 mm, diam cord - 1.6 mm, L stick = 43.5 mm, W stick = 8.2 mm, Th stick = 7.8 mm [RTS 13/7/2004].
18.4 g
Local Name:
Other Owners:
Collected by Edward Evan Evans-Pritchard either in the early part of 1930 (probably February to April), or between February and June of 1931 [CM; RTS 9/7/2004].
Field Collector:
Edward Evan Evans-Pritchard
PRM Source:
Edward Evan Evans-Pritchard
Donated December 1931
Collected Date:
1930 - 1931
Tassel consisting of a cut section of animal's tail that is naturally shaped as a hollow hide tube with long dark brown hair attached to the outer face (Pantone black 7C). This tassel is suspended from a loop, formed from two cords, each consisting of two strands of light yellowish brown plant fibre twisted together (Pantone 7508C). These cords have been doubled over, with the four loose ends tied together in a thick knot at the top; they then pass through the hollow body of the tassel, and are secured on the other side by being looped over a short, horizontal wooden stick that acts as a toggle. This stick has been roughly cut at either end but is otherwise unmodified; it is also hollow. The object is complete, although the ends of the fibre cord are fraying. It has a weight of 18.4 grams, with a total length of 330 mm. The tail segment is 162 mm long, and has a diameter of 16 mm at the top. The cord has a diameter of 1.6 mm, while the stick is 43.5 mm long, 8.2 mm wide and 7.8 mm thick.

This object was collected by Edward Evan Evans-Pritchard during his first or second seasons of fieldwork amongst the Nuer, e.g.: in February to April 1930 or between February and June of 1931, in 'the dry season'. In the former, he spent around three and a half months in Leek territory at Yahnyang and Pakur on the Bahr el Ghazal, in Lou territory at Muot Dit, and at Adok, amongst the Dok Nuer. In the latter, he spent five and a half months at Nasir, on the Nyanding River, and at Yakwat on the Sobat River (see E.E. Evans-Pritchard, 1940,
The Nuer , and the map of Evans-Pritchard's fieldwork in D.H. Johnson, "Evans-Pritchard, the Nuer, and the Sudan Political Service", African Affairs 81 no. 323, p. 233) (pers. comm. Chris Morton 2004).

This tassel was used for hanging from the perforated horn of a favourite bull. A comparatively small example, as here, is known as
dhur ; a large tassel would be called lue (see 1931.66.30) .

Rachael Sparks 18/9/2005.

Primary Documentation:
Accession Book Entry [IX, p. 16] 1931 [insert, in pencil] 66 [end insert] E. EVANS-PRITCHARD , Esq. Dec. Specimens collected by himself in the EASTERN SUDAN, viz. [...] [pencil insert, p. 18] 29 [end insert] - Hair tassel for hanging on necks of cattle, NUER.
Additional Accession Book Entry [p. 17] - 1931.66.29 No given AP l[ength] = 170 mm [red biro] A20 F12 15.

Card Catalogue Entry - [insert, red] A20 F12 15 [end insert] E. SUDAN NUER. [insert, black ink], dhur made from cow's tail hung from horns of fav. cattle [end insert]. Hair tassel for hanging on necks of cattle. Coll. by donor. d.d. E.E. Evans-Pritchard, Dec. 1931. [insert, black ink] l = 170 mm [end insert] [RTS 23/7/2004].

Old Pitt Rivers Museum label - Dhur , tuft from cow's tail, for hanging on perforated horn of a favourite bull. NUER (NATH) E. SUDAN. Pres. by E. Evans-Pritchard 1931 [rectangular metal-edged tag, tied to object]; 15/92 [small jewellers tag, tied to object; RTS 13/7/2004].

Related Documents File - Letter from Edward Evan Evans-Pritchard to Henry Balfour dated 7 December 1931: "The long tassel is made of cow's tail and is attached to the horn of a favorite bull which has a hole bored in it for this purpose. When it [is] fairly small it is called dhur and when it is very large it is called lue ".

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