Nuer piece apron

Nuer piece apron
Other views of this artifact:

Accession Number:
1936.10.63 .1
[Southern Sudan]
Cultural Group:
Date Made:
By 1936
Animal Leather Skin , Animal Hide Skin , Glass , Bead , Brass Metal
Stitched , Strung , Tied , Bent , Beadwork , Recycled Decorated Incised
W = 250 (not including ties), L = 430, W bead border = 10, beads diam = 1.6, th = 1.5, brass rings diam = 37, smaller ring above diam = 25.5, th = 2.3 mm [RTS 15/2/2005].
[.1] and [.2] together 271.7 g
Other Owners:
This object was probably collected in 1935 or 1936, when Evans-Pritchard held a research fellowship from the Leverhulme Trust (see E.E. Evans-Pritchard, 1940, The Nuer) [RTS 28/9/2004].
Field Collector:
Edward Evan Evans-Pritchard
PRM Source:
Edward Evan Evans-Pritchard
Donated 1936
Collected Date:
1935 - 1936
Front piece of a woman's apron, made from a triangular piece of grayish yellow hide or leather (approximately Pantone 466C), cut with convex sides that curve in and down to a long tapering base. A narrow hide strip has been threaded across the upper edge with a series of neat horizontal stitches, leaving each end loose as ties that can be used to fasten this piece to the separate back apron (1936.10.63.2). At one end, this strip divides into 2 parts that are then twisted together, with a shorter single hide strip knotted onto the end to length the tie. This has also been fastened to a similar tie on the edge of the back apron with a loose knot.

The 2 long sides of the apron itself have been decorated with a regular border of beadwork sewn onto the hide body. The beads have ring-shaped bodies made of opaque white glass, with the occasional very pale blue bead mixed in amongst the group (Pantone 7457C). They have been threaded onto a thin hide cord in horizontal groups of 4 beads at a time, with the needle passing through the skin at the end of each group before turning to run back in the opposite direction, creating a continuous length that runs down the sides to create a narrow beaded border. The beads become smaller in size as they near the lower part of the apron, where there are occasionally rows with 5 or 6 beads in place of the usual 4.

The very base of the apron has been doubled over to create a loop, and sewn down using a hide thong; a simple ring has been passed through this, made of a brass rod. A second ring is attached to its base, made of a brass rod bent into a loop with the ends touching, and decorated with incised oblique lines around the top and bottom edges. A jingle has been hung from this, made of 2 recycled brass rings. One of these has been made from a single layer, the second from a double thickness of brass sheeting, pressed together, probably in a mould. These look to be European, and seem to be the front and back segments of a large metal eyelet, of the sort that might be found on canvas or tent sheeting. They are a metallic yellow colour (Pantone 871C). The surface of these brass objects has begun to corrode, and some of this has begun to stain the beads nearby a green colour.

The apron is nearly complete, but damaged; the body has several holes and tears, as well as numerous fold marks down the length, and has begun to come away from the top edging on one corner, while a few beads are missing from the base of the apron and some have chipped and are incomplete. This object has a weight of 271.7 grams, together with the back piece. In itself, it measures 250 mm across the top width, not including the ties, and is 430 mm long. The bead border is 10 mm wide; each bead has a thickness of around 1.5 mm and a diameter of 1.6 mm. The large brass rings that adorn the base have a diameter of 37 mm; the smaller rings above these are 25.5 mm wide and 2.3 mm thick.

This object was collected by Edward Evan Evans-Pritchard when he held a research fellowship from the Leverhulme Trust (see E.E. Evans-Pritchard, 1940,
The Nuer ), either during May to July 1935, when he worked amongst the Nuer Lou and Eastern Jikany, or from October to November 1936, when he was working amongst the Karlual section of the Nuer Leek, in Western Nuerland (pers. comm. Chris Morton 2004).

For the back piece that goes with this apron, see 1936.10.63.2. The bead edging on this apron is similar to that seen on Bari apron 1934.8.44, and Dinka Tuich apron 1979.20.61.

Rachael Sparks 18/9/2005.

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. 414] [insert] 63 [end insert] - [front part of] Pair of woman’s aprons (front & back) of leather decorated with beads & cowries, NUER.
Additional Accession Book Entry [p. 413] - 1936.10.63 number allocated.

Card Catalogue Entry - There is no further information on the tribes catalogue card [RTS 23/7/2004].

Pitt Rivers Museum label - Woman's pair of aprons (front & back). NUER, E. SUDAN. d.d. E. Evans-Pritchard, 1936 [front] [.1] front piece with beads, [.2] back piece with cowries [rectangular metal-edged tag, tied to object; the accession number has been added to the back, and corrected several times; RTS 15/2/2005].

Funded by Arts and Humanities Research Council
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