Nuer trumpet

Nuer trumpet
Other views of this artifact:

Accession Number:
[Southern Sudan?]
Cultural Group:
Date Made:
By 1942
Antelope Horn Animal
Carved , Hollowed , Perforated
L - 727, diam lower body = 15; bell mouth L = 43.3, W = 40 mm, internal diam = 40 by 37; mouthpiece L = 26, W = 15, embouchure = 23 by 13 [RTS 7/12/2004].
168.5 g
Other Owners:
Possibly collected by either Edward Evan Evans-Pritchard or Robert Grenville Gayer-Anderson in 1917; entered in PRM records as a donation of Henry Balfour for convenience.
Field Collector:
Robert Grenville Gayer-Anderson or Edward Evan Evans-Pritchard
PRM Source:
?Edward Evan Evans-Pritchard or ?Robert Grenville Gayer-Anderson [Henry Balfour]
Found unentered 1942
Collected Date:
By 1942
Long side-blown trumpet carved from a single piece of oryx horn that has been straightened and largely hollowed out. This has a solid proximal end with a sharp pointed tip and circular section, that gradually tapers out towards an oval, thin-walled bell mouth with sharp lip. The upper body is covered with a natural ribbing that becomes more pronounced towards the distal end. There is a slightly raised mouthpiece about two-thirds down the length of the body with an oval embouchure cut into it. The lip of this mouthpiece has dark marks surrounding it, and may have been formed by applying heat to the surface of the horn. The embouchure leads into the body of the trumpet, which has a narrow wind way that extends for an unknown distance towards the proximal end. The trumpet is nearly complete; a sliver of horn has been lost from the side of the mouthpiece, and there is some surface scratching in this area, while thin cracks are developing at the bell mouth end on both inside and outside surfaces. It is currently a greenish grey colour (Pantone 416C), mostly opaque but with some translucent banding throughout. This has a weight of 168.5 grams. The body is 727 mm long, with a diameter just below the embouchure of 15 mm, and a bell mouth that measures 43.3 by 40 mm across the exterior and has an internal diameter of 40 by 37 mm. The mouthpiece is 26 mm long and 15 mm wide, while the embouchure has a diameter of 23 by 13 mm.

This object was found in the collections in 1942, and had never been accessioned. It had no original documentation with it, but a list from that period suggests that the original donor was probably either Robert Grenville Gayer-Anderson or Edward Evan Evans-Pritchard. This was probably based on the fact that it is very similar to 1917.25.73, a trumpet acquired by the former from the Eastern Nuer, near the Sudan-Ethiopian border, in 1917; and both collectors are known to have donated Nuer material to the Museum prior to 1942.

Currently on display in the Court, case 81A.

Rachael Sparks 17/9/2005.

Primary Documentation:
Accession Book Entry - [p. 125, August 1942] The late Henry Balfour, F.R.S. , Miscellaneous specimens found unlabelled, entered for convenience as donations of the late Curator. [p. 135] 1942.8.55 - Side-blast trumpet made of a horn of the oryx antelope. Found unlabelled; probably from the NUER tribe of the SUDAN-ABYSSINIAN frontier. (Another specimen of that provenance, d.d. Major R.G. Gayer-Anderson, 1917, in the Museum.) [see 1917.25.73].

Card Catalogue Entry [music?] - EAST SUDAN, ABYSSINIAN [sic] Side-blast trumpet made of a horn of the oryx antelope. Tube continues beyond embouchure. Embouchure has raised rim, probably by heat. Considerable variation of pitch obtained by lipping. (JM). [tribes] E. AFRICA, SUDAN-ABYSSINIAN Frontier. NUER Tribe. Prob. Side-blast trumpet made of a horn of the oryx antelope. Ascribed to the late H. Balfour [RTS 23/7/2004].

Related Documents File - In the Related Documents File is a list detailing: "Donors, or probable donors, of material entered under Mr. Balfour's name. ... 1942.8.55 side-blast trumpet, ?Nuer, ?E. E. Evans-Pritchard or R.G.Anderson 1917?" [MR 10/5/2000].

Old Pitt Rivers Museum label - Oryx horn trumpet. ?NUER, SUDAN-ABYSSINIAN frontier. 1942.8.55 [paper label stuck to side of object; RTS 6/12/2004].

Display History:
Currently on display with label in case: SUDAN-ABYSSINIAN FRONTIER, NUER TRIBE (probably), Side-blasts trumpet of oryx-antelope horn. Ascribed to H. Balfour, 1942.8.55 [RTS 6/12/2004].

Funded by Arts and Humanities Research Council
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