Bari axe

Bari axe
Other views of this artifact:

Accession Number:
[Southern Sudan] Bahr el Jebel ?Peridi
Cultural Group:
Date Made:
By 1933
Wood Plant , Iron Metal , Brass Metal
Carved , Forged (Metal) , Hammered , Recycled
L = 135 mm, W handle = 20.3, Th handle = 19.2, L axehead = 135, W axehead = 35, diam ferrule = 22.3 mm, W ferrule hole = 6 mm [RTS 29/6/2004].
339.4 g
Other Owners:
Collected by Percy Horace Gordon Powell-Cotton and his wife on 9th February 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:
9th February 1933
Axe consisting of a round sectioned wooden handle carved from a single piece of yellowish brown wood with polished surface (Pantone 729C). A small, narrow socketed axe blade has been fitted onto the top of the shaft. This has been shaped from a single flat ended piece of iron with a rectangular section (Pantone 877C). The body has been split 20 mm from this point to form an oval socket; the blade then tapers out slightly to form a curved cutting edge at the other end that is bevelled on both sides. A short rectangular sectioned piece of iron has been forced into the gap between socket and wood to make the axe head fit snugly. The tops of five similar pieces are visible at the top of the handle, where they appear to have been hammered down vertically into the wood. At the base of the handle, a rectangular strip of iron has been wound around the circumference with its ends overlapping. A short brass cartridge (Pantone 871C) has been force fitted over the handle on top of this - suggesting that the iron strip was used to enable a tighter fit. The cartridge has a cylindrical body, the lower part of which has become compressed slightly, and a flat, slightly everted end with a hole at the centre, through which the wood of the handle is visible. This flat end bears an incised inscription arranged in two curved lines around the hole: "12 F.N. 12 [top line] BELGIUM HERSTAL [bottom line]", representing the manufacturer's name (FN Herstal, of Belgium) and the cartridge gauge (12). The object is complete, but has some damage; there is a flaw in the iron near the cutting edge of the axe head, and the handle has several splits running along its length, while the shape of the cartridge has been slightly distorted in the process of hammering it into place over the handle end. The axe handle has a length of 722 mm, a width of 20.3 mm and a thickness of 19.2 mm; the axe head is 135 mm long and 35 mm wide at the cutting edge; it is 5 mm thick at the opposite, blunt end. The brass ferrule has a diameter of 22.3 mm; the central hole is 6 mm wide. The axe has a total weight of 339.4 grams.

Collected by Percy Horace Gordon Powell-Cotton and his wife Hannah on 9th February 1933 during a shooting expedition. The place of collection has not been specified; however other objects in the museum collected on this date were obtained at Peridi. While the precise location of Peridi has yet to be established (it lies at co-ordinates
5.23 N., 31.49 E) , it is probably to be located in the modern administrative district of Bahr el Jebel, Southern Sudan, west of Mongalla.

The name ‘FN Herstal’ appears on a cartridge reused in this object; this is the name of a small arms manufacturing company based in Liege, Belgium. The cartridge was probably from a shotgun, rather than military issue.

This object is currently on display in the Lower Gallery, case 68A.

Rachael Sparks 24/9/2005.

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. 252] - From the BARI tribe, MONGALLA, PERIDI and NGANGALA. [insert] 39 [end insert] - Axe, with small iron blade, perforated for haft (221).

Card Catalogue Entry - There is no further information on the catalogue card [RTS 12/2/2004].

Related Documents File - Typewritten List of "Curios Presented to Dr. Balfour by Major & Mrs. Powell-Cotton. Barri Tribe". This object appears as item 221: "Axe, total length 28 1/2", length of head 5 1/4" and hammer brass cartridge ferril [sic]". No date or place of collection is given, but it occurs in a list immediately following entries from Peridi dated 9/2/33, and the coordinates written on the object are those given elsewhere for Peridi. 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].

?Pre-PRM label - D 221 [pencil, on reused brown cardboard tag, tied to object RTS 29/6/2004].

Written on object - 2217 [faded brown ink] Axe, BARI tribe, BAHR-EL-GEBEL, 5° 23' N., 31° 49' E. d.d. Major Powell-Cotton 1934.8.39 [black ink; RTS 29/6/2004].

Funded by Arts and Humanities Research Council
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