Lango waist ornament

Lango waist ornament
Other views of this artifact:

Accession Number:
1940.7.081 .2
[Southern Sudan] [Al Istiwa'iyah] [Equatoria] Eastern Equatoria ?Bahr el Jebel
Cultural Group:
Date Made:
By 1940
Animal Hide Skin , Paste Glass , Synthetic , Bead
Moulded , Strung
Waist band L = 760, W = 6, th = 1 mm; hanging tail strip L = 638, W = 6, th = 2.5 mm; bead diam = 6, th = 5 mm [RTS 1/4/2005].
27.4 g
Other Owners:
Samuel P. Powell
Field Collector:
Samuel P. Powell
PRM Source:
Samuel P. Powell
Loaned July 1940
Collected Date:
By 1940
Waist ornament consisting of a narrow strip of reddish brown hide (Pantone 476C), with the ends serving as waist ties, and the central part threaded with a series of spherical glass paste beads. These have a broad flat band around the centre, and were probably made using the technique of prosser-moulding, with 67 dark blue (Pantone 2747C), 4 turquoise (Pantone 305C) and 1 paler blue example (Pantone 278C). There is no obvious pattern to the ordering of these colours. A long narrow strip of reddish brown hide hangs down from the centre of the beading (Pantone 476C), with its top end folded over the waist band and secured with a stitch; the lower end has a narrow slit cut into it for decorative effect. The object is mostly complete, but there are some tears on the waist ties and one may be broken at its end. One of the glass beads appears to be in 2 halves, which have been strung separately, and most beads are covered with some surface dirt. There is also some surface discolouration on the hanging tail section. It has a weight of 27.4 grams, with the beaded waist band being 760 mm long, 6 mm wide and 1 mm thick, and the tail section 638 mm long, 6 mm wide and 2.5 mm thick. A typical bead has a diameter of 6 mm and is 5 mm long; the beads are all roughly of the same size and shape.

Collected by Samuel P. Powell from the 'Langu' in the Equatorial Province of Southern Sudan, and loaned to the Pitt Rivers Museum in 1940.
This province, also known as 'Al Istiwa'iyah', was in existence until 1981, after which point it was divided into the districts of Eastern and Western Equatoria; in the 1990's these were subdivided further into the modern administrative districts of Western Equatoria, Bahr el Jebel, and Eastern Equatoria. If the Langu tribe is the same as the Lango, they are associated with the area around the Torit district, suggesting a provenance for this object in the modern administrative districts of either Eastern Equatoria or Bahr el Jebel.

This apron was worn by women, together with 1940.7.081.1 (a chain apron, known as
ariko) and 1940.7.081.3 (a narrow leather apron or tail strip).

The moulded beads incorporated into this object are probably glass paste, not plastic, made using the process known as 'prosser-moulding', a technique that moulds a milk-paste under high pressure then fires it, giving the appearance of glass or porcelain, but actually being a synthetic material. These types of beads were made in France, Germany and the Czech Republic (see Picard, R and J. 1995. 'Prosser Beads: The French Connection', Ornament 19.2, pp 68-71. Similar beads in various colours appear on objects from the Lotuko (1934.8.62, 1934.8.66, 1934.8.76), Jur (1934.8.104), Labwor (1940.7.049) and other items in the collection (1910.4.21, 1942.1.449). This type of bead also appears in Arkell's collection of trade bead sample cards (see 1971.15.195, 1971.15.196 and 1971.15.257; the cards were purchased in Omdurman and El Fasher, and the beads shown on them were made in Jablonec nad Nisou in the Czech Republic.

Rachael Sparks 14/9/2005.

Primary Documentation:
Accession Book Entry [Loans II, p. 308] - ESTATE OF S.P. POWELL, C/O N.H. HASLAM, Esq. Manager, Westminster Bank, Stony Stratford, Bucks. Collected by himself. Data from his labels and notes. [p. 313] 1940.7.081 - Woman's dress, complete (3 pieces) incl. 1 "extra tail" (a) [.1] Girdle, with sporran of iron chains, (b) [.2] beads on leather strap (c) [.3] strip of leather. LANGU TRIBE, EQUATORIAL PROVINCE, A[NGLO].-E[GYPTIAN] SUDAN.

Card Catalogue Entry - There is no further information on the catalogue card [RTS 24/5/2004].

Related Documents File - Appears on undated typed list: "Langu woman's dress in three pieces, but this includes an extra tail". List is annotated by hand on back: "List of Curios" and "Far from complete" [RTS 16/12/2003].

Pitt Rivers Museum label - Woman's dress (complete, 3 pieces, 1 extra tail) LANGU, (E. of Upper Nile) ANGLO-EGYPTIAN SUDAN. S.P. Powell, 1940.7.081(b) [brown luggage label, tied to object; RTS 3/3/2005].

Funded by Arts and Humanities Research Council
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