Acholi axe

Acholi axe
Other views of this artifact:

Accession Number:
India , Uganda
Gujarat Kathiawar
Cultural Group:
Date Made:
By 1939
Iron Metal , Brass Metal , Wood Plant
Cast , Hammered , Carved , Incised
L handle = 612 mm, diam handle = 19.3 mm, L axe head = 104.2 mm, W axe blade = 83.3 mm [RTS 17/3/2004].
Other Owners:
Armine Charles Almroth Wright
Field Collector:
?Armine Charles Almroth Wright
PRM Source:
Armine Charles Almroth Wright
Donated July 1939
Collected Date:
By 1939
Axe consisting of a cast brass head (Pantone 871C) with a flat ended, square sectioned hammer butt, tapering in to join the socket on one side, with the blade projecting from the opposite side. The end of the butt is roughly finished, and there are two small cracks in one edge that may be impact damage. The socket is faceted on upper and lower surfaces, the space divided into seven planes, with a single punched ring and dot motif in each section, except the central plane on one side only, which has two dots and a 2 letter/digit inscription instead. On either side of this faceted area the sides are a series of grooves, creating a stepped profile; the inner steps are decorated with incised oblique lines across their edges. The blade has a flat rectangular tang, splaying out to form a broad curved blade with concave shoulders and convex cutting edge. This outer edge has been split, and a thin sharp edged iron blade inserted, 12 mm in width. The axe socket has been fitted onto a light orange brown wooden handle with a polished surface (Pantone 154C). The wood is irregular, and slightly curved. The upper handle end has been split across its centre, to widen this area and prevent the axe head slipping off. The object is complete and in good condition, except for some damage to the handle ends; there is a small amount of woody or fibrous material caught in the edge of the blade. Length of handle 612 mm, diameter of handle 19.3 mm; length of axe head 104.2 mm, width of hammer end 18.6 mm, length of blade 56 mm, width of blade 83.3 mm, thickness of blade at cutting edge 0.05 mm; width of socket exterior 32.7 mm.

Probably collected by Armine Charles Almroth Wright, and donated to the Pitt Rivers Museum by him in 1939. This axe was made in Kathiawar, in India, and imported by Indians into Uganda in the hope of selling it to the Acholi. However Acholi men would not use this tool, as it could not be carried on the shoulder in the customary way. For traditional Acholi axes, see 1966.1.272-3, and 1922.48.1, which is used in dances. The main difference in form between these types and the imported Indian example lies in the length and shape of the axe blade.

Rachael Sparks 14/9/2005.

Primary Documentation:
Accession Book Entry - A.C.A. WRIGHT , ESQ., ... Granville Park, S.E.13 - INDIAN axe from KATHIAWAR, imported by Indians for sale to ACHOLI in UGANDA, who would not use it because it cannot be carried on the shoulder by the ACHOLI method.

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

Old Pitt Rivers Museum label - 1939.7.57. UGANDA. ACHOLI, imported from KATHIAWAR INDIA. ACHOLI won't use it, as it can't be carried on the shoulder. d.d. A.C.A. Wright [circular metal-edged tag, still tied to object; RTS 17/3/2004].

Funded by Arts and Humanities Research Council
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