Bari hide purse

Bari hide purse
Other views of this artifact:

Accession Number:
[Southern Sudan] Bahr el Jebel Mongalla
Cultural Group:
Date Made:
By 1933
Animal Hide Skin , Iron Metal
Perforated , Plaited , Knotted , Repaired (local) , Forged (Metal) , Hammered Bent
Total L = 390; purse L = 127, W = 138, th = 5.2; flap W = 100, length = 38; iron rings diam = 20 and 17.5; strap W = 9, th = 4.5 mm [RTS 4/8/2005].
66.4 g
Local Name:
Other Owners:
Collected by Percy Horace Gordon Powell-Cotton and his wife Hannah Powell-Cotton (nee Hannah Brayton Slater) on 12th February 1933 during a shooting expedition
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:
12th February 1933
Dark reddish brown hide purse (Pantone 476C), made from an animal's scrotum that forms a naturally shaped, slightly triangular pocket that tapers to a curved base. The top of the back extends to form a rectangular flap that folds down over the front to close the opening. This flap has a row of tiny holes along its lower edge, and may have originally been decorated with some kind of beading or tassels. The bag has been perforated at either side of the mouth, and iron rings fitted through, each made from a simple rod bent into a loop; one has touching ends, while on the other the ends are slightly apart; these are a metallic gray colour (Pantone 877C). A strap has been fitted through these rings, secured on the inside with a thick knot; this has a plaited body and is a similar colour to the purse body. The object is complete, except for a small hole at the top of the purse flap, and another near the base, which has been mended using hide stitching. It has a weight of 66.4 grams; the purse body is 127 mm long, 138 mm wide across the top and 5.2 mm thick; the flap is 100 mm wide and hangs down over the body for a length of 38 mm. The iron rings have diameters of 20 and 17.5 mm respectively; the strap is 9 mm wide and 4.5 mm thick, while strap and purse have a total length of 390 mm.

Collected by Percy Horace Gordon Powell-Cotton and his wife Hannah Powell-Cotton (nee Hannah Brayton Slater)
at Mongalla on 12th February 1933 during a shooting expedition. The accession book entry implies that the object was collected from the town of Mongalla, rather than from the province of that name; this town is located in the modern administrative district of Bahr el Jebel.

The local name for this type of object is
kochobo. For a similar flat bag made from an animal's scrotum see 1934.8.43; this has decorative beading covering the purse flap. Animal scrota were also used by groups such as the Nuer and Shilluk to make a different style of bag, where the body is fully expanded and hardened to create a more bulbous receptacle. See, for example, 1931.66.19-20, and E.E. Evans-Pritchard, 1940, The Nuer, p. 30 and fig. 3, bags which the Nuer used to hold tobacco, spoons and other small objects, and a Shilluk version now in Hamburg (R. Boccassino, 1966, "Contributo allo studio dell'ergologia delle popolazioni nilotiche e nilo-camitiche, parte V", Annali Lateranensi XXX , fig. 58, and p. 302; Hamburgisches Museum für Völkerkunde und Vorgeschichte Accession number 17.28:288).

Rachael Sparks 4/8/2005.

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] 42 [end insert] - Purse made from an animal’s scrotum, with hide belt, MONGALLA (264).

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

Pitt Rivers Museum label - kochobo , purse, BARI, MONGALLA, E. SUDAN, 5° 19' N., 31° 49' E. d.d. Major Powell Cotton, 1934 (264) [rectangular metal-edged tag, tied to object; RTS 4/8/2005].

Related Documents File - Typewritten List of "Curios Presented to Dr. Balfour by Major & Mrs. Powell-Cotton. Barri Tribe". This object appears as item 264: "Leather purse, plain, large with plaited strap, 2 iron rings, native name Kochobo , 12/2/33 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].

Funded by Arts and Humanities Research Council
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