Anuak wheel trap

Anuak wheel trap
Other views of this artifact:

Accession Number:
[Southern Sudan]
Cultural Group:
Anywaa [Anuak]
Date Made:
By 1936
Wood Plant , Plant Fibre
Carved , Bound , Tied
External diam = 330 mm, diam ring = 270 mm, W spokes = 5-5.5 mm, W binding = 10 mm [RTS 13/4/2004].
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
Wheel from a wheel trap, usually used in conjunction with a noose. This is circular, and made from two round sectioned wooden rods, each bent into a circular loop of similar diameter, with their ends shaved to a narrower width and bent to overlap the main body. These two rings form the framework of the wheel. They were placed together, then a series of short wooden rods were passed through the gap between the rings, their broader ends left protruding, and their tapering, slightly pointed ends meeting at the centre of the object, where they overlap one another. This forms the hub of the trap, which would break when trodden on by an animal to leave the hoof trapped by the surviving spokes and the accompanying noose. The framework was then secured by winding flat strips of plant fibre, possibly palm, around the two rings. Each strip was split just above each spoke, with the two ends of the strip then passing around each side of the wooden rod, securing it as well as the framework. The wheel is largely complete, with the full number of spokes in position, but the fibre binding has broken off from a small part of the frame and has been lost. The wood is a light yellowish brown (Pantone 7508C). The frame has a diameter of 270 mm, and the underlying rods a diameter of 7.4 mm. The wheel itself has a diameter of 330 mm, while its component spokes are generally from 5 to 5.5 mm in width. Each spoke has a faceted head, coming to a slight point, with the shaved bodies ranging from round to oval in section. The fibre binding strips have a maximum width of 10 mm.

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 example was used for catching animals such as Kob, Tiang & Waterbuck, and is known in Anuak as

Wheel traps of this type are discussed by K.G. Lindblom. They were used by a number of Sudanese groups, including the Nuer, Lango, Acholi, Bari and Baggara, for catching antelopes as well as larger animals such as giraffe and rhinoceros - with the size of the animal determining the size of the trap. This particular example is said to have been used for giraffes. The trap would be placed over a hole, dug into the ground, with a noose laid over the top and secured to either a tree or a wooden block. The trap was then covered with earth to hide it. When an animal trod on the trap, the spikes secured the wheel to the foot and allow the noose to tighten around the leg (K.G. Lindblom, 1928
, The Spiked Wheel-trap and its Distribution, Statens Etnografiska Museum, Smärre Meddelanden 5).

For similar wheel traps, see 1936.10.99 (Anuak, for catching 'large animals'), 1922.25.6 (an Acholi trap used for catching giraffes), 1934.8.35.1 (a Moru trap, also used for giraffes) and 1931.66.37 (from the Nuer).

Rachael Sparks 28/8/2005.

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] 26 [end insert] - Spiked wheel for use with running-noose trap, for catching Kob, Tiang & Waterbuck, etc. ANUAK.
Additional Accession Book Entry [p. 411] - 1936.10.26 Number given MdeA.

Card Catalogue Entry - There is no further information on the catalogue card [RTS 30/1/2004].

Old Pitt Rivers Museum label - Spiked wheel for use with noose-trap. For catching Kob, Tiang, Waterbuck etc. Native name = thac . ANUAK, E. SUDAN. d.d. Evans-Pritchard. 1936 [rectangular metal-edged tag tied to object; RTS 11/3/2004] .

Funded by Arts and Humanities Research Council
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