Bari back apron

Bari back apron
Other views of this artifact:

Accession Number:
[Southern Sudan] Bahr el Jebel Mongalla
Cultural Group:
Date Made:
By 1933
Animal Hide Skin , Glass , ?Cotton Yarn Plant
Beadwork , Strung , Stitched , Repaired (local)
L = 490 mm, W = 1030 mm, W back flap top = 470 mm, diam beads = 2.5, Th beads = 1.5 mm; diam larger beads = 3.5, th larger beads = 2 mm [RTS 22/6/2004].
Local Name:
Other Owners:
Collected by Percy Horace Gordon Powell-Cotton and his wife on 22nd January 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:
22nd January 1933
Back apron made from a piece of light yellow hide (Pantone 7508C), the surface largely discoloured a darker brown (Pantone 7533C), with patches of red ochre (Pantone 7524C) and a small piece of resin adhering. The hide has been cut to form a broad back flap with a mostly straight top edge that rises at the centre to form a short triangular peak; the ends of this taper to form two rectangular strips that serve to tie the apron in place around the waist. These strips have been folded over and compressed through use, from a width of around 25 mm to 5 mm. Black animal hair has been left on the surface of the side ties in patches. The side edges of the back apron taper in towards a curved lower edge. One of these sides has been decorated with a band of beadwork, made up from 617 small opaque glass ring or seed beads with convex sides, consisting of 594 white, 18 dark blue (Pantone 281C) and 5 sky blue beads (Pantone 305C), arranged in 149 rows, with four to five beads in each row. The first 18 rows near the top of the apron have columns made up of four white beads with a dark blue bead at the base; there is one similar column with a sky blue bead in place of the dark blue bead. The rest of the columns are made up of white beads, except for one column of four sky blue beads. The beads have been sewn together using fibre thread, possibly cotton, with the thread stitched onto the edge of the hide and then passed up and down each short column of four to five beads, with occasional knots along the outer edge. This stitching appears to have come loose in 2 places. The apron, while largely complete, has numerous damage holes across the surface; a long tear has also been mended locally with fibre thread. The apron is 490 mm long, and 1030 mm wide across the top (including the ties), or 470 mm (back flap only). Two sizes of ring bead have been used; the smaller type, which appears in all three colours, is typically 2.5 mm in diameter and around 1.5 mm thick, while the larger bead, used for white beads only, for the last 41 rows of the band, is 3.5 mm in diameter and 2 mm thick. The hide is less than 1 mm thick.

Collected by Percy Horace Gordon Powell-Cotton and his wife Hannah at the settlement of Mongalla on 22nd January 1933 during a shooting expedition.

Powell-Cotton gives the Bari name for this object as
kaperia, and it is worn at the back - note however that he gives a similar term, kapera, for girl's waist fringe 1934.8.46, so the word may be either incorrect, or only a generic term for this particular set of clothing. For a similar Bari apron, see 1903.2.6.2; this was part of a set worn by women, with back apron and front fringe apron.

Rachael Sparks 6/9/2005.

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] 44 [end insert] - Kaperia , hide apron with edging of white beads, worn at back, ib[idem] [MONGALLA].

Card Catalogue Entry - There is no further information on the catalogue card [RTS 10/2/2004].

Related Documents File - Typewritten List of "Curios Presented to Dr. Balfour by Major & Mrs. Powell-Cotton. Barri Tribe". This object appears as item 24: "Back apron, leather edged, 1 side white beads, native name Kaperia , 22/1/33 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].

?Pre-PRM label - D 24 [brown cardboard tag, tied to object].

Old Pitt Rivers Museum label - Back-apron, kaperia , BARI, MONGALLA, E. SUDAN. 5° 19' N., 31° 49' E. d.d. Major Powell-Cotton, 1934 (24) [rectangular metal-edged tag, tied to object].

Funded by Arts and Humanities Research Council
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