Nuer tassel

Nuer tassel
Other views of this artifact:

Accession Number:
[Southern Sudan]
Cultural Group:
Date Made:
By 1931
Animal Tail , Animal Hide Skin , Plant Fibre , String
Strung , Twisted , Knotted , Tied
L = 675, L tassel part = 510, max W tassel = 87, diam tail discs = 20, central hole = 7, cord loop L = 24.3, W = 14.8, hide loop above L = 144, W strip = 4; W string = 2 mm [RTS 3/12/2004].
236.7 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
Large tassel for hanging from the horns of a favourite ox, consisting of a series of cut disc shaped sections of animal tail with a hole through their centres, with long dark brown to reddish brown hair attached to the outer face (Pantone Black 4C and 469C). The accessions book entry for this object suggests that these elements come from 2 separate tails, but it is not clear if this is actually the case, particularly as the the two colours seem to be mixed. These segments have been threaded onto two lengths of hide cord, twisted together, and protruding from the top of the ornament in a small oval loop, the upper part of which is bound round with a narrow strip of dark brown rectangular hide thong (Pantone black 7C). A second lighter hide strip, much thinner and softer, has been tied to the top of this to make a larger loop, and knotted twice near the top (Pantone 7508C). There is also a short length of twisted yellow plant fibre string, made from 2 strands, looped around this upper thong (Pantone 7509C). The object is complete, except perhaps for the plant fibre string; there are traces of an old lice infestation throughout the strands of hair. The tassel has a weight of 236.7 grams, and has a total length of 675 mm; the hair part of this is 510 mm long, with a maximum width of 87 mm; the tail segment discs have a diameter of 20 mm and a central hole measuring 7 mm across. The cord loop is 24.3 mm long and 14.8 mm wide, while the hide loop above it is 144 mm long, and is made from a strip 4 mm wide, and the fibre string has a width of 2 mm.

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 large example, as here, is known as
lue ; a small tassel would be called dhur (see 1931.66.29).

Currently on display in the Upper Gallery, case 26A.

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] 30 [end insert] - Large ditto [hair tassel for hanging on necks of cattle, NUER]. [insert] Made from 2 tails tied together, lue for hanging from perforated horn [end insert].
Additional Accession Book Entry [p. 17] - 1931.66.30 No given AP l[ength] = 550 mm [red biro] A20.F12.7.

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 ".

Card Catalogue Entry - [insert, red] A20 F12 7 [end insert], E. SUDAN NUER. Large hair tassel for hanging on necks of cattle. [insert, black ink] lue - says on label - for hanging from favourite bull's perforated horn [end insert]. Coll. by donor. d.d. E.E. Evans-Pritchard, Dec. 1931. [Insert, black ink] L[ength] = 550 mm. Made from 2 tails tied together [end insert] [RTS 23/7/2004].

Old Pitt Rivers Museum label
[rectangular, metal-edged] - Lue , tassel of cow's tail, for attaching to the horn of a favourite bull, the horn being bored for this purpose. NUER (NATH), E. SUDAN. Pres. by E. Evans-Pritchard, 1931 [front] 1931.66.30, 8 [back] [rectangular metal-edged label, now stored in RDF; RTS 19/5/2005].

Display History:
Current display label - EASTERN SUDAN, NUER. Large hair tassel made from two cows' tails, lue, for hanging on the neck or from the perforated horn of a favourite ox. Collected and donated by E.E. Evans-Pritchard. 1931.66.30 [in case U.26.A; RTS 13/12/2004].

Funded by Arts and Humanities Research Council
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