Bari stool

Bari stool
Other views of this artifact:

Accession Number:
[Southern Sudan] Bahr el Jebel Mongalla
Cultural Group:
Date Made:
By 1933
Wood Plant , Animal Hide Skin
Carved , Hollowed , Covered , Stitched , Plaited , Polished
Ht = 171 mm; seat L = 260, W = 157, th = 13.3 mm; pedestal W = 89, Th = 68.7 mm; Base L = 93, W = 83 mm; handle W = 11.5, th = 5.3 mm; diam hole = 25 mm [RTS 12/8/2004].
630.9 g
Local Name:
Other Owners:
Collected by Percy Horace Gordon Powell-Cotton and his wife Hannah Powell-Cotton (nee Hannah Brayton Slater) on 23rd January 1933 during a shooting expedition [RTS 12/8/2004].
Field Collector:
Percy Horace Gordon Powell-Cotton & Hannah Powell-Cotton (nee Hannah Brayton Slater)
PRM Source:
Percy Horace Gordon Powell-Cotton
Donated 1934
Collected Date:
23rd January 1933
Stool carved from a single piece of wood and consisting of an oval seat with a jagged 'W' shape cut away from the centre of either long side; this is convex across the width of the upper surface and concave across its length, with flat cut side edges. The underside is concave, with a pedestal foot extending down from the centre. This has been hollowed out with an oval shaped window at front and back and solid convex sides, giving an oval section. A thick collar with upright sides projects out slightly from the base of this stem, with a flat oval underside. The stem itself has been covered with a rectangular piece of hide, the ends of which have been pushed together and fastened with hide thong stitching across the seam. This is a discoloured yellow colour (Pantone 7507C). This piece encloses the hollowed part of the stem, creating a compartment that can be used to hold money and other objects; a circular opening has been cut near the top to allow access into the interior. This would originally have had some kind of plug to keep the contents secure. A hide loop has been added to the pedestal to enable it to be carried. This consists of two narrow parallel strips of hide - each composed of at least two strips fastened together around the upper part of the pedestal. On the back face, the parallel strips are fastened together with a short piece of twisted cotton string, possibly European. On the opposite face, a plaited hide handle has been looped over both strips, before extending vertically down the front of the pedestal, passing over the hole that allows access to the interior compartment. At its base, this handle divides into its two component strips, which then pass around each side of the body before slotting into holes in their ends to secure them. These strips and the plaited handle section have traces of buff hair preserved on their surface. Apart from the missing plug, the stool is complete; there is a crack running along the length of the seat near one edge. The upper surface of the seat has been polished, and there are carving marks evident on the sides of the pedestal base. The wood is a warm yellowish brown colour (Pantone 7509C); there are small patches of possible burning visible on the edges of the cutaway areas on the sides of the seat; the ends of both seat and pedestal base have either been stained or burnt a darker colour to the rest of the object. It has a weight of 630.9 grams, and is 171 mm high; the seat measures 260 mm along its length and 157 mm across its widest point, with a thickness of 13.3 mm; the pedestal is 89 mm wide and 68.7 mm thick; the base measures 93 by 83 mm. The plaited handle is 11.5 mm wide and 5.3 mm thick, while its component strips are 8.7 mm wide, and the hole giving access into the pedestal has a diameter of 25 mm.

Collected by Percy Horace Gordon Powell-Cotton and his wife Hannah at the town Mongalla on 23rd January 1933 during a shooting expedition.

A similar stool was acquired by Evans-Pritchard from the Nuer (1931.66.16), while the form is related to two other examples from his collection (1936.10.94-95), supposedly Bari, and possibly headrests rather than stools. See also 1940.12.534, collected by Seligman but unfortunately lacking a cultural or geographical provenance.

Rachael Sparks 23/08/2005.

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] 40 [end insert] - Wooden stool, shanka , elliptical-mushroom-shaped, with hollow hide-covered stem for containing money, etc. MONGALLA (137).

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 137: "Stool, 10 1/4 x 6 1/2", height 5 1/4", nicked in centre, single circular stem, leather bound, hole for money leather thong carrier, plaited handle, native name Shanka , 23/1/33 Mongalla, 5.19 N, 31.49 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].

Old Pitt Rivers Museum label - 137 D [pencil on base; collector's marking?] Stool, shanka , with pocket for money, BARI, MONGALLA, E. SUDAN. 5 ° 19' N, 31 ° 49' E., d.d. Major Powell-Cotton, 1934 [on label stuck to side of object; RTS 12/8/2004].

Publication History:
This object was featured in the Museum's audio guide produced during the DCF-funded 'What's Upstairs?' project, 2004–2006. [BR 'DCF 2004-2006 What's Upstairs?' 8/11/2005] This object was featured in the Museum’s ‘web gallery’ (‘Selected Objects from the Lower Gallery’) produced during the DCF-funded ‘What’s Upstairs?’ project, 2004–2006, with the following caption: ‘In East and West Africa headrests often double up as stools. Amongst the Bari of Sudan, stools and headrests sometimes have a skin-covered compartment used to carry tobacco or small valuables. This stool, known as a shanka, has a compartment apparently designed to carry money.' [BR 'DCF 2004-2006 What's Upstairs?' 9/11/2005]

Funded by Arts and Humanities Research Council
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