Anuak spoon

Anuak spoon
Other views of this artifact:

Accession Number:
[Southern Sudan]
Cultural Group:
Anywaa [Anuak]
Date Made:
By 1935
Mussel Shell , Mother of Pearl Shell
L = 117 mm, W = 69 mm, Ht = 17.1 mm, Th = less than 1 mm [RTS 18/6/2004].
23.0 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
Spoon or scoop made from one half of a mussel bivalve shell, separated from its paired shell at the hinge, but not obviously modified in any other way. The object is oval in plan view with a convex underside that is a translucent, caramel colour (Pantone 730C); this has flaked away at the apex, exposing the opalescent white colour of the underlying shell body. There is some weathering on the exterior; the unweathered surfaces appear to have a natural polish. The interior hollow is concave and made from the natural mother-of-pearl lining of the shell, which is an opalescent light purple to white colour (Pantone 663C). There are a few small patches of either dirt or food residue. The object is essentially complete, apart from the surface damage mentioned and some edge damage, possibly from use. It is 117 mm long, 69 mm wide and 17.1 mm high; the shell is less than 1 mm thick, and has a weight of 23 grams.

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

The local name for this type of object was
apäl. For similar spoons made out of mussel shells, see 1936.10.41-43; for a variant shell form with serrated end, see 1936.10.44-45. None of these shells make up the two halves of a single bivalve. These spoons were stored in a small basket, 1936.10.46, called akoga . Similar shells, used as spoons or ladles, are known amongst the Dinka Tuich (see 1979.20.57-8). Patti Langton described these as 'oyster' shells, but they seem to be of the same type, and are probably also mussels.

Rachael Sparks 20/08/2005.

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] 40-43 [end insert] - [One of] 4 Valves of mussel-shells, apäl , used as spoons, ANUAK.

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

Old Pitt Rivers Museum label - Apäl , mussel-shell spoon. ANUAK, E. SUDAN. d.d. Evans-Pritchard 1936.10.42 [label stuck to inside surface; RTS 18/6/2004].

Funded by Arts and Humanities Research Council
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