Shield, Ingessana or Gule

Shield, Ingessana or Gule
Other views of this artifact:

Accession Number:
[Southern Sudan] Roseires Reservoir region [?Darfung]
Cultural Group:
Date Made:
By 1912
Animal Hide Skin , Grass Fibre Plant
Perforated Covered , Stitched , Decorated , Tooled , Twisted , Tied Plaited
L = 933, W = 500, th edge = 10.5 (variable); handle L = 32, W = 23.3, th = 14.5, cord diam = 4.3 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 hide (Pantone Black 7C). 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 hide piece that is seems to be bent around the core, with the ends meeting on the inside, creating the groove mentioned above. The handle curves slightly outward. The hide piece has been cut to form a flat square at either end of this handle, which is then stitched to the body of the shield using 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. 2 lengths of twisted yellow grass fibre cord have been tied around either end of the handle, each being of 2-ply thickness (Pantone 7509C). These appear to be broken at either end and are fraying in some places. 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 oblique impressed lines. Inside this border, there are 4 groups made up of 3 rows of dashes, arranged equidistantly around the body, marking out the 'corners' just before the ends of the shield begin to curve inwards. The shield is nearly complete; the tip of the boss is worn, one edge has been damaged and the body has been badly distorted along one side; the fibre cords are both broken, and there is some sort of accreted matter on the inner face. It has a weight in excess of 1000 grams, and is 933 mm long, 500 mm wide and 10.5 mm thick at the edge; the handle body is 32 mm long, 23.3 mm wide and 14.5 mm thick, while the cord has a diameter of 4.3 mm.

Collected by L. Gorringe in the Roseires region of the Blue Nile province. The shield may be of Ingessana or Gule origin. 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 1944.10.16.

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. [...] 1944.10.17 - Leather shield, same description as last [see 1944.10.16], same punched ornamentation but without the rectangle pattern. Length 3' 5 3/4", middle width 1' 8 1/4", width near the ends 1' 9 3/4" and 2' 1/4". Same data [Probably from the ROSEIRES region, BLUE NILE, DAR FUNG (HAMEG, BURUN , or INGASSANA tribes?)]. (Leather very strongly warped; margin slightly damaged in one place).

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 - Leather shield. A.-E. SUDAN, probably from DAR FUNG (INGESSANA or HAMEG tribes?). Coll. by Cat. L. Gorringe, 1902-12. d.d. Mrs L. Gorringe. 1944.10.17 [rectangular metal-edged tag, stored in Related Documents File]; AFRICA, SUDAN. Leather shield. Don. Mrs Gorringe 1944.10.17 [plastic label with metal eyelet, tied to object; RTS 25/8/2005].

Related Documents File - 1944.10, object label [RTS 25/8/2005].

Funded by Arts and Humanities Research Council
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