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 , Glass , ?Cotton Yarn Plant
Beadwork , Strung , Hammered
L = 84 mm, W = 69 mm, Th = 5 mm, L flap = 20 mm; Diam typical bead = 4.5 mm, Th bead = 3 mm; Diam pink beads = 4 mm; iron ring W = 13.7, L = 13.9, Th = 1.3 mm [RTS 23/6/2004].
20.1 g
Local Name:
Other Owners:
Collected by Percy Horace Gordon Powell-Cotton and his wife on 12th 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:
12th February 1933
Small purse made from a piece of hide, taken from the lower part of an animal's scrotum. This forms a naturally shaped pocket, with open top and curved sides tapering in to a double curved base; there is a slight ridge running down the centre of the hide on either side. The hide is a dark brown colour (Pantone 7519C), and is covered with patches of short light brown hair on either side (Pantone 7508C). At the top of the purse, the back piece of hide has been slightly bent over the front, and a small flap has been attached to the end of this, constructed out of a series of 100 small opaque glass ring beads with convex sides in white, pink (Pantone 196C) and dark red over a white core (Pantone 202C). These have been strung onto twisted plant fibre thread, probably cotton, in vertical groups of two, arranged as three vertical tiers, with the thread sewn onto the hide at the top, and knotted off at the base. The top two tiers have 17 rows; the lower tier has only 16 rows, making the flap taper slightly to fit the tapering shape of the purse body. The arrangement of the beads is fairly regular; the top tier is made of vertical groups of two red beads (making a total of 32 red beads), except for the end group, where two slightly smaller pink beads have been used instead. The remaining 66 beads are white. An iron ring has been pushed through a hole in the top corner of the purse; this ring is made out of a small rod with tapering ends and roughly oval section bent into a loop with overlapping ends. This was presumably used to attach the purse to a cord or belt. The purse is essentially complete, although some of the surface hair has worn away in patches and there is a small hole through the back; it weighs 20.1 grams. The purse is 84 mm long, 69 mm wide and 5 mm thick; the flap is 20 mm long. The beads are of similar size; a typical example has a diameter of 4.5 mm and a thickness of 3 mm, while the slightly smaller pink beads have diameters of around 4 mm and thickness of 3 mm. The iron ring is 13.9 mm long, 13.7 mm wide and 1.3 mm thick.

Collected by Percy Horace Gordon Powell-Cotton and his wife Hannah Powell-Cotton (nee Brayton) 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 1934.8.42; this currently lacks any decoration over the purse flap, although stitching holes suggests something of this kind may have once been present. 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] 43 [end insert] - Smaller ditto [purse], ditto [made from an animal’s scrotum], decorated with beads, ib[idem] [MONGALLA] (261).

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

Old Pitt Rivers Museum label - Kh[...]obo , purse. BARI, MONGALLA, 5 19' N., 31 49' E, d.d. Major Powell-Cotton, 1934 (261) [writing partially illegible; tied to object, RTS 4/6/2004].

Related Documents File - Typewritten List of "Curios Presented to Dr. Balfour by Major & Mrs. Powell-Cotton. Barri Tribe". This object appears as item 261: "Purse, hide, red & white beads on flap, iron ring, 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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