Anuak sheath

Anuak sheath
Other views of this artifact:

Accession Number:
[Southern Sudan]
Cultural Group:
Anywaa [Anuak]
Date Made:
By 1936
Animal Hide Skin , Pig Skin Animal , Animal Hair , Plant Seed , Bead
Perforated , Knotted , Bound , Strung
Sheath L = 274, W = 37.5, th = 6.3; side strips W = 10; bead diam = 4, th = 2; lower tie extended L = approximately 170 mm [RTS 28/6/2005].
33.5 g
Local Name:
Other Owners:
Presumably collected by Evans-Pritchard during his period of fieldwork amongst the Anuak between early March and May 1935 [RTS 18/6/2004].
Field Collector:
Edward Evan Evans-Pritchard
PRM Source:
Edward Evan Evans-Pritchard
Donated 1936
Collected Date:
March - May 1935
Sheath for protecting the edge of a metal spearhead, made from thick pigskin with long bristles still attached to the outer surface and curling down one side, and up the other. It consists of 2 rectangular strips of dark brown skin (Pantone 7531C to 7533C), which has come off the surface in places exposing a lighter yellow surface beneath. Each strip has been folded in half, creating a recess on the inside edge that could be fitted around either side of the blade. The upper ends have been gathered together, and their tips bound with a short hide sheath, possibly with a seam down the front; a hole in one side of this seems to be fitted over a small hide tab coming from the sheath body. The other ends of the sheath have been perforated with pairs of holes. One short, narrow strip of hide has been passed through the lower pair of holes to hold the sheath ends together; this is secured by a knot at one side, and threaded with several disc beads on the other trailing end, made from small black seeds with a glossy surface (Pantone black 6C). There are currently 6 beads in place, but the object is accompanied by the fragments of several more. There is a shorter, possibly broken strip through one of the upper pair of holes only. The end of the sheath is therefore flexible, allowing it to be fitted onto the blade, and then pulled closed again using these ties once in place. The sheath is complete, but several beads have broken and the surface of the pigskin has begun to deteriorate. It has a weight of 33.5 grams; the sheath body is 274 mm long, 37.5 mm wide and 6.3 mm thick; each of the side strips is around 10 mm wide, and the beads are 4 mm in diameter and 2 mm thick and the lower tie is around 170 mm in length.

Presumably collected by Evans-Pritchard during his period of fieldwork amongst the Anuak between early March and May 1935
(E.E. Evans-Pritchard, 1940, The Political System of the Anuak of the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan, p. 3).

This sheath is known to the Anuak as

Rachael Sparks 30/9/2005.

Primary Documentation:
Accession Book Entry [p. 410] - 1936 [insert] 10 [end insert] E. EVANS-PRITCHARD, M.A., Exeter College, Oxford. - Specimens collected by himself in the EASTERN SUDAN, while travelling with a Grant from the Rockefeller Leverhulme Trustees, viz: [p. 412] [insert] 23-25 [end insert] - [One of] 3 Sheaths, arana , of hide, for protecting the edges of iron spear-heads. ANUAK.

Card Catalogue Entry - Information as in accession book, with inserted comment '[... 3 illegible words] 1 [= 1936.10.23] now placed around ancient jo spear (1936.10.9) also Anuak, EP, l[ength] = 420 mm'. Note that this spear seems to have been numbered 1936.10.9 incorrectly, and is actually 1936.10.22 [RTS 11/2/2004].

Pitt Rivers Museum label - Pig-skin sheath for protecting the edges of a spear-head. Arana . ANUAK, E. SUDAN. d.d. E. Evans-Pritchard, 1936 [rectangular metal-edged tag, tied to object; RTS 24/6/2005].

Funded by Arts and Humanities Research Council
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