Shield, Ingessana or Gule?

Shield, Ingessana or Gule?
Other views of this artifact:

Accession Number:
Roseires Reservoir region [?Darfung]
Cultural Group:
Date Made:
By 1912
Animal Leather Skin , Grass Fibre Plant , Iron Metal
Perforated Covered , Stitched , Decorated Tooled , Repaired (local) , Twisted , Tied Plaited
L = 997, W = 490, th edge = 13; handle L = 434 (including end plates), W = 27, th = 21; cord diam = 2.3, loop L = 260 mm [RTS 25/8/2005].
> 1000 g
Other Owners:
L. Gorringe and Mrs L. Gorringe
Field Collector:
L. Gorringe
PRM Source:
Mrs L. Gorringe
Donated October 1944
Collected Date:
1902 - 1912
Large shield, made from a single piece of thick dark brown to reddish brown hide (Pantone 412C). This has long, straight sides, and curved top and bottom; the edges have been folded over from the inside to form a raised rim around the shield body. This was shaped when wet, with the central section pushed up from the underside to form a raised triangular boss, with a pinched rib running down the centre. This provides a hollow underside that allows room for a hand-grip below. A short, oval-sectioned handle runs across this cavity, oval in section, with some kind of groove running along the inside face. This is made of an unknown core material, somewhat stiff, covered in a thick brown hide piece that is seems to be bent around the core, with the ends meeting on the inside, creating the groove mentioned above (Pantone 412C). The hide piece has been cut to form a flat square at either end of this handle, which is then stitched through large pairs of holes to the body of the shield, by narrow narrow hide thongs that pass through the front as pairs of long stitches. On the inside face, the thongs are interwoven or plaited to form an elaborate binding that keeps the handle ends firmly fixed in place. A single length of twisted, 2-ply, yellow grass fibre cord have been tied around the handle, with the ends knotted together to form a suspension loop (Pantone 7508C). The front of the shield has been tooled for decorative effect, in a pattern consisting of 4 concentric rows of short straight lines impressed into the surface, running around the outer edge, then a further 2 rows made up of a broken zigzag pattern. Inside this border, there are 4 groups made up of 2 rows of dashes, arranged equidistantly around the body, marking out the 'corners' just before the ends of the shield begin to curve inwards. Inside these are a further 4 motifs, composed of a rectangle divided into squares by intersecting lines. The shield is complete, but the body is slightly distorted and damaged along part of one edge, where there is a tear that has been repaired locally using hide thong stitching, now loose, and a large iron staple across the join. This staple has a shaped rectangular body and tapering ends, and is badly rusted. There is a further mend on the body, where a large iron staple with flat, oval body and tapering ends has been bent across a tear. The shield has a weight in excess of 1000 grams, and is 997 mm long, 490 mm wide and 13 mm thick at the edge; the handle is 434 mm long, 27 mm wide and 21 mm thick, while the cord has a diameter of 2.3 mm and the loop is 260 mm long.

Collected by L. Gorringe in the Sudan sometime between 1902 and 1912. It probably came from the Roseires region, and may be from the Ingessana or Gule. The Gule are a sub-group of the Shilluk who live in Northern Sudan, Jebel Gule, in the San and Roro hills north of the Gaam and west of er-Roseires; they are also known as the Anej, Hamej / Hameg, or Fecakomodiyo. They now speak Arabic, the Gule language being extinct (;

This type of shield does not appear in D. Plaschke & M.A. Zirngibl, 1992,
African Shields; the only similar example known in the collection to date is 1944.10.17.

Rachael Sparks 30/9/2005.

Primary Documentation:
Accession Book Entry [p. 375] - Mrs L. GORRINGE, Rosaries Farm, Ngong, Kenya . Specimens collected by her late husband, Captain L. Gorringe, M.C., in the ANGLO-EGYPTIAN SUDAN between 1902 and 1912. Undocumented. 1944.10.16. - Leather shield, hexagonal but with rounded corners, the two long sides slightly incurved, the short sides convex-curved; the surface sloping up from the magin into a rounded pyramidal boss which is ridged longitudinally by tooling from the back; the margin bent up. The leather is smooth on the front surface and is ornamented with a border of short parallel lines in four rows and one row of short parallel lines set zig-zagwise but unconnected, further with two short rows of short parallel lines extending inward from near each of the four corners as well as four rectangles divided into small squares: all ornamentation punched. The back surface is rough and unprepared after skinning. Long and rigid vertical handle consisting of a piece of leather wrapped round a core, thong-sewn through square terminal plates by stitches on either side of the central ridge. Length 3' 3 1/2", middle width 1' 7 1/2", width near the ends 1' 7" and 1' 9 1/2". Probably from the ROSEIRES region, BLUE NILE, DAR FUNG (HAMEG, BURUN , or INGASSANA tribes?) (The leather is warped; two tears have been mended with bits of iron).

Additional Accession Book Entry - [p. 373] The two shields 1944.10.16 and 17, which arrived here as part of the KENYA collection, belong to the following SUDAN collection. [p. 374] To 1944.10.16 ff. With regard to the probable provenance of at least some of the specimens of this collection: the collector is mentioned in the book by Yacoub Pasha Artin, "England in the Sudan", 1911, pp. 103-106, as the head of the Slave Repression Department, with headquarters at Roseires, Dar Fung, near Abyssinian border. The shields 1944.10.16/17 were included in the KENYA collection of the Rev. L. J. Lightbody by the joint donors of the Lightbody and Gorringe collections. As, however this type of shield does not occur in KENYA but belongs to the A[NGLO]-E[GYPTIAN] SUDAN, it may be assumed that the two specimens originally formed part of Capt. Gorringe’s collection. The type is described and figured by E. S. Thomas in the Catalogue of the Ethnographical Museum of the Royal Geographic Society of Egypt, Cairo, 1924, pp. 72/73, where the most probable provenance is said to be Dar Fung, Roseires dist[rict]., either from the INGASSANA tribe (based on a picture in the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan Handbook, Intelligence Department, 1911, plate opp. p. 124), or from the HAMEG, an arabicised negroid tribe (based on a very small picture representing a war dance, in Artin, England in the Sudan, 1911, plate opp. p. 56). However, the latter book, whose pictorial evidence should not be rated too high, shows also a group of men said to be DINKA with apparently the same type of shield, plate opp. p. 182. Thomas mentions also an illustration of this type of shield in Jahresbericht der Geogr. Gesellsch. von Bern, XXV, 1919-22, p. 24, where the provenance is given as KORDOFAN

Pitt Rivers Museum label - AFRICA, SUDAN. Leather shield. Don. Mrs Gorringe 1944.10.16 [plastic label with metal eyelet, tied to object; RTS 25/8/2005].

Funded by Arts and Humanities Research Council
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