Acholi or Lango fringe apron

Acholi or Lango fringe apron
Other views of this artifact:

Accession Number:
?Uganda ?Sudan , Sudan
?Northeastern Uganda [Southern Sudan?]
Cultural Group:
?Lango ?Acholi
Date Made:
?By 1939
Animal Leather Skin , Plant Fibre , String , Iron Metal
Twisted , Stitched , Wound , Plaited , Incised , Forged (Metal) Hammered Bent
L apron = 255, W apron = 55, W belt = 7, th belt = 3, L chain = 83, L links = 7, diam link rod = 1, diam iron ring = 16 mm, W ring = 1.6; L leather 'tail = 242, W tail = 10.5, th tail = 2.5 mm [RTS 13/12/2004].
107.5 g
Local Name:
?chip [cip]
Other Owners:
This object was found in the Museum collections in 1942, having not yet been accessioned. The original donor of the object is not certain, although it was tentatively assigned to Armine Charles Almroth Wright at the time, based on the object's style and l
Field Collector:
?Henry Balfour ?Armine Charles Almroth Wright
PRM Source:
?Henry Balfour ?Armine Charles Almroth Wright
Donated by ?1942
Collected Date:
?By 1939
Apron consisting of a rectangular belt, made from a thin strip of brown leather (Pantone 440C), tooled on the outer face to give a textured appearance. A stringwork apron hangs down from the centre of the front. This is composed of twisted fibre strings, which have a red colouring underneath a coating of black mud (Pantone black 7C). The material glistens with tiny fibrous particles, which are probably a mica that occurs naturally mixed with the coating material. These strings have been grouped together into a series of bundles, each bound round with a length of yellowish brown string near their upper end, placed side by side and then secured to one another with a triple row of stitching across their width below. The resulting apron was then hung over the belt body, so that one third of the length hangs behind the belt, and the remainder down the front, and sewn in place around the leather. The belt itself is pierced at either end, and a short length of iron chain threaded through; this is currently a metallic gray colour (Pantone 877C). The chain is made up of 15 oval links, slightly twisted along their bodies. The 2 end links and 1 other are made of thinner metal and twisted somewhat differently. A third piece has been attached to the centre of this chain, through a large iron ring, which passes through the end of a short, narrow leather strip. This has been given a textured surface, through the addition of 2 very narrow herringbone plaited bands of leather, which seem to be sewn into the surface, giving a repeating square pattern on the reverse of the strip. There are 2 additional plaited bands that run at right angles across the end, where 2 thin strips hang freely as tassels. There are signs that there were originally more of these - either 1, or 4 more, being the ends of the strips that make up the herringbone design - but these have broken off and are currently missing. There are traces of red ochre and mica flecks across the surface of the leather throughout (Pantone 483C). The object is nearly complete, excepting the missing tassels and some broken string ends; it has a weight of 107.5 grams. The stringwork apron is 255 mm long and 55 mm wide; the belt is 7 mm wide and 3 mm thick; the length of chain at the back is 83 mm long, with each component link measuring 7 mm along its length, and being formed from a rod with a diameter of 1 mm; the larger ring has a diameter of 16 mm across the body and is 1.6 mm wide, and the leather 'tail' is 242 mm long, including the tassels, 10.5 mm wide, and 2.5 mm thick.

This object was found in the Museum collections in 1942, having not yet been accessioned. The original donor of the object is not certain, although it was tentatively assigned to Armine Charles Almroth Wright at the time, based on the object's style and likely provenance, in which case Wright was probably collector as well as donor. This is not the only possibility however, as both Lango and Acholi material had been brought into the museum from other collectors prior to 1942, including Charles Gabriel Seligman, Jack Herbert Driberg and Samuel P. Powell.

Similar stringwork aprons are worn by the Lango (1925.14.6), Acholi (see 1942.1.446), Kakwa and Madi (M. Trowell & K.P. Wachsmann, 1953, The Tribal Crafts of Uganda, 186-189); some of these are coated with red ochre. Driberg discusses this type of garment in his book on the Lango: 'From about the age of five girls wear over the pudenda a few strings or threads (called chip) made from the hibiscus, increasing in number with the age of the wearer. There are attached to a thin leather girdle ( del ) which is fastened behind and twisted into a stick-like leather continuation ( achudi) which projects backwards. If the father is prosperous, an unmarried girl wears an ariko , or apron of small metal chains in place of threads. (J.H. Driberg 1923, The Lango, pp 64-65). The chip and achudi del are illustrated by a photograph opposite p. 64. According to Driberg, achudi is simply defined as a Protuberance or projection. ' Achudi del ' is specifically the projecting ends of this type of girdle (J.H. Driberg, 1923, The Lango, p. 359, defined in his Lango-English dictionary at the back of the volume). Two decades after Driberg published his book on the Lango, Hayley observed that 'The chip is only worn on certain ceremonial occasions by the modern woman who wears clothes' (T.T.S Hayley, 1947, The Anatomy of Lango Religion and Groups, p. 183).

Rachael Sparks 14/9/2005.

Primary Documentation:
Accession Book Entry [XI, p. 75] - The late H. BALFOUR, Esq. F.R.S. Specimens from different parts of AFRICA found unlabelled. As it is impossible to identify the real donor, or donors, it is assumed for convenience in using the Donor's Index that the specimens are given by Mr Balfour. Mostly without indication of provenance. [p. 87] 1942.1.445 - Belt of strong leather thong with suspended fringe of black twisted and greased fibre threads; the two ends of the belt thong connected with an iron chain. No provenance given. Probably [insert] roughly [end insert] same provenance as 444 ["Probably UPPER NILE (S.SUDAN or N.E. UGANDA)"].

Card Catalogue Entry - There is no further information on the catalogue card [RTS 28/1/2004].

Related Documents File - It is possible the donor has been incorrectly identified as Henry Balfour. In the Related Documents File is a list detailing: "Donors, or probable donors, of material entered under Mr. Balfour's name. 1942.1.44-451, Belts etc. ?A. C. A. Wright" [MR 2/5/2000].

Old Pitt Rivers Museum label - Belt with fringe of fibre threads. ?UPPER NILE. 1942.1.445 [rectangular metal-edged tag, tied to object; RTS 9/11/2004].

Funded by Arts and Humanities Research Council
Help | About | Bibliography