Bow, Burun?

Bow, Burun?

Accession Number:
Blue Nile ?Darfung
Cultural Group:
Date Made:
By 1912
Bamboo Plant , Sinew , Reptile Skin
Carved , Notched , Stained , Twisted Strung , Bound , Tied
L = 1857, diam at centre shaft = 26.5 x 25.5, diam below notched end = 16 x 7.5, W at peg end = 9.5, Th= 9, String diam = 2.5, Strung L = 1520, binding strip W = 3, bound L = 60 mm [RTS 28/9/2005].
614.9 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
Bow made from a single piece of jointed yellow bamboo with 7 segments visible (Pantone 7510C), partially stained a deep purplish red across the surface (Pantone 4695C). The shaft is almost round in section, following the natural shape of the parent plant, but it has been shaved flat along the inside face and sides at either end, where the body begins to taper, creating a rectangular section. A deep notch has been cut into the side of one end, while the other end has been carved down on both sides to form shoulders with a long square sectioned peg extending from the centre. Both peg and notch were probably designed to help keep the ends of the bow string in place. The bow has been strung with a length of twisted grayish brown sinew cord (Pantone 7531C), making the ends of the shaft curve inwards to form a shallow arc; the centre of the bow remains largely straight, due to the jointed nature of the wood. A narrow strip of reptile skin has been bound around the shaft immediately below the notched end, while there are marks left on the surface from a similar binding around the flat part of the opposite end. The bow string has been tied around the lower shaft, at the point where the section changes from circular to rectangular, and wound several times around the body, before being stretched up to fit over the pegged top of the bow using a loop, tied off below. A small piece of reptile skin has become caught in the string at this point. The bow is nearly complete, missing some of its binding; the string has a frayed end, and is no longer taut. It has a weight of 614.9 grams. The shaft is 1857 mm long, with a diameter at the centre of 26.5 by 25.5 mm; the notched end is 16 mm wide and 7.5 mm thick immediately below the notch, while the peg end has a width of 9.5 by 9 mm. The string has a diameter of 3.5 mm and a strung length of 1520 mm, and the binding strips are 3 mm wide and cover an area 60 mm in length.

Collected by L. Gorringe, probably from the Burun of Darfung, sometime between 1902 and 1912, and donated to the museum by his widow in 1944. Gorringe collected a series of similar bows; see also 1944.10.29-33; for a group of Burun arrows, see 1944.10.34-71.

Rachael Sparks 28/9/2005.

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. [p. 381] 1944.10.28-33. - [1 of] Six bows, all of the same type, all incomplete; each made of a stout and straight piece of solid bamboo; the ends are thinned down, by slicing off half the thickness of the stem on the underside and by tapering them off at the sides, and bent down: the trimming of the ends is asymmetrical both with regard to the length and shape, viz., while one end is thinned down to a length of c. 1' 4 1/2". the other is only thinned down to a length of c. 1' 4 1/2", the other is only thinned down to a length of c. 1 ft., the longer end is cut with a shoulder on both sides and a protruding peg in the middle c. 11/8" long: [Drawing], the shorter end is cut with a deep notch on one side only, leaving a reduced shoulder on one side and a slightly swelling peg c. 1 1/8" long on the other: [Drawing] . In most specimens the ends are spirally bound with long, narrow strips of snake-skin, in order to prevent splitting. None of the specimens is intact with string, the strings being either broken [p. 383] or entirely missing: from what remains it seems that the string, which consists of three twisted strands of vegetable fibre, is fastened at some distance from the “shorter” end and wound spirally round the staff until it reaches and passes over the temporal notch to the underside: the other end of the string is attached to the peg at the “longer” end of the staff by means of a loop. Lengths varying between 6' 3 1/2" and 5 5 3/8". Probably from the BURUN of DAR FUNG.

Card Catalogue Entry [objects] - This repeats the information in the accession book, but adds: For details of construction see Dr Meinhard's note in Accession book [typed]; A19 F12 21 + 22 [red insert - it is not clear which bows have been photographed here] [filed under 'Weapons - offensive - Archery - Bows'; RTS 23/7/2004].

Pitt Rivers Museum label - AFRICA, Sudan, Dar Fung. Probably Burun. Wooden bow. Coll. L. Gorringe, 1944.10.28 [plastic coated label, tied to object]; BURUN? DAR FUNG A.E. SUDAN. Coll. by Capt. L. Gorringe, 1902-1912. d.d. Mrs L. Gorringe 1944.10.28 [rectangular paper label, stuck to surface of object; RTS 28/9/2005].

Related Documents File - [RDF 1944.10.28 - 33] - Handwritten letter from H.J. Braunholtz [Keeper of the Department of Oriental Antiquities and Ethnology at the British Museum], to Thomas Penniman, dated 8 December, 1944: 'I have now received information about our bows from the Bertat, Upper Nile, given by Capt. Smith in 1905. We have 4 bows with a single asymmetric notch at one end and for the string, the other end being symmetrically "shouldered". They are described as "cane bow, plain variety, circular in section at the grip; lengths: 6' 1.5", 5' 11.5", 5' 7.5", & 5' 4.7" respectively. Numbered 1905-207, 1905-208, 1905-209 & 1905-210. They are bundles of unfeathered arrows with them. These are all the particulars given in the register.' [GI 11/1/2002; RTS 4/3/2004].

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