Moru arrow

Moru arrow

Accession Number:
[Southern Sudan] Azumvuba
Cultural Group:
Date Made:
By 1933
Iron Metal , Wood Plant , Plant Fibre , Pigment
Forged (Metal) , Hammered , Carved , Bound , Notched
Total L = 780, arrowhead L = 193, blade L = 80, max W = 23.8, th = 4; tang W = 6; shaft L = 586, diam = 10, nock L = 11; binding on tang = 17, on upper shaft L = 42 then 8 mm; on lower shaft L = 29 mm [RTS 28/9/2005].
64.9 g
Local Name:
atu or atoo
Other Owners:
Collected by Percy Horace Gordon Powell-Cotton and his wife on 26th April 1933 during a shooting expedition
Field Collector:
Percy Horace Gordon Powell-Cotton & Hannah Powell-Cotton (nee Brayton)
PRM Source:
Percy Horace Gordon Powell-Cotton
Donated 1934
Collected Date:
26th April 1933
Arrow consisting of an iron arrowhead with leaf-shaped blade, thickened at the centre with an angular ridge, and rounded shoulders, on a long narrow tang that is mostly round in section, although with some flattened areas. The base of the tang has been set into the top of a lightweight shaft carved from a single piece of yellow wood (Pantone 7508C). A narrow strip of plant fibre has been bound around the lower tang, with similar binding at the top of the shaft with one long section, a gap, then a shorter bound area. There is similar binding around the lower shaft, just above the nocked end which has 2 rectangular notches cut into opposite sides. The end of the butt has been blackened. All the binding has been stained a pinkish red colour, probably from use of a pigmented fixative (Pantone 4705C). The arrow is complete and intact. It has a weight of 64.9 grams, and a total length of 780 mm. The arrowhead has a length of 193 mm, down to its junction with the shaft; the blade is 80 mm long, 23.8 mm wide and 4 mm thick, while the tang has a width of 6 mm. The shaft is 586 mm long, 10 mm in diameter, and has a nock length of 11 mm; the upper binding is 17 mm long around the metal and 42 and then 8 mm long around the upper shaft, while the lower binding has a length of 29 mm.

Collected by Percy Horace Gordon Powell-Cotton and his wife Hannah at Azumvuba on 26th April 1933 during a shooting expedition. The location of Azumvuba is not clear, but it is probably to be located somewhere near the town of Mongalla, either in the modern districts of Bahr el Jebel or Western Equatoria.

The Moru name for this type of object is
atu. For a Moru bow, probably used with this type of arrow, see 1934.8.32; for an archer's hide ring, used to pull back the bow string, see 1934.8.34; all were collected by Powell-Cotton. A series of iron headed Moru arrows was also collected by Evans-Pritchard (see 1936.86.19.2-12, and 1936.86.18.2-15, and the quiver for holding them, 1936.86.18.1), and Patti Langton (1979.20.18-21). These share the use of pinkish stained fibre bindings around the base of the tang, top of the shaft and above the butt; the former was probably to prevent the arrow pushing too far into the shaft socket on impact, and the latter to prevent the wood splitting.

A photograph in the museum's collection, probably taken by Powell-Cotton, shows a Moru man using a leather guard to draw back a bow; this was once on display with the actual object, but is now in the photographic archives (see photograph 1998.208.48.7) (information provided by Chris Morton).

Rachael Sparks 28/9/2005.

Primary Documentation:
Accession Book Entry [p. 248] 1934 [insert] 8 [end insert] - MAJOR P. H. G. POWELL-COTTON , Quex Park, Birchington, E. Kent. Specimens collected by himself & Mrs Cotton, during hunting trips, 1933, viz: [...] [p. 250] From the MORU tribe, MONGALLA & AZUMVUBA [insert] 33 [end insert] - Atu , arrow with tanged iron head and nocked wood shaft, ib[idem] [AZUMBUBA] (ib[idem]) [818].

Card Catalogue Entry - There is no further information on the tribes catalogue card [RTS 2/6/2004].

Pitt Rivers Museum label - AFRICA, Sudan, Azumvuba, MORU tribe. Arrow, atu . Coll. P.H.G. Powell-Cotton 26th April 1933, no. 818. 1934.8.33 [plastic coated label, tied to object; RTS 28/9/2005].

Written on object - 818 [pencil, collectors marking]; Arrow, atu , MORU tribe, AZUMVUBA, WHITE NILE, 5 ° 17' N., 30 ° 13' E. d.d. Major Powell-Cotton, 1934 [RTS 28/9/2005].

Related Documents File - Typewritten List of "Curios Presented to Dr. Balfour by Major & Mrs. Powell-Cotton. Moru Tribe". This object appears as item 818: "Bow, wood, round, bound lizard skin , 5'3 1/2", native name Koosoo , gut string, 1 arrow, leaf shpaed 2'7", native name Atoo, Leather protecting ring, native name Driba, 26/4/33 Azumvooba, 5.17 N 30.13 E". Also contains details of a cine film 'some tribes of the Southern Sudan', taken by Powell-Cotton during this 1933 expedition, copies of which are now in the National Film and Television Archive and the Powell-Cotton Museum in Kent [RTS 14/3/2005].

Funded by Arts and Humanities Research Council
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