Bow, Burun?

Bow, Burun?

Accession Number:
Blue Nile ?Darfung
Cultural Group:
Date Made:
By 1912
Bamboo Plant , Sinew , Snake Skin Reptile
Carved , Notched , Stained , Twisted Strung , Bound , Tied
L = 1900, diam shaft at centre = 25.3, notched end W = 17.5, th = 12.5; peg end W = 9.6; strung L string = 1820, diam = 3.5 mm [RTS 27/9/2005].
620.3 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 solid jointed wood, possibly bamboo, with 7 segments visible, stained a deep purplish red across the surface (Pantone 476C). 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 peg extending from the centre, pierced through the side. 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. The bow string has been wound several times around the lower shaft, then extends along the face of the bow to the upper end, where it has been looped over the end of the shaft and tightened with a slip knot. Below this, the upper part of the shaft has been bound round with narrow strips of reptile skin, probably to prevent the wood splitting; this also provides a 'stop' that prevents the bow string loop sliding too far down the shaft. The string is no longer taut, and has been knotted along its length; it is fraying at one end and along its body. There are markings around the lower shaft, showing where there was once some narrow shaft binding present. Otherwise, the bow appears to be complete. It has a weight of 620.3 grams. The shaft is 1900 mm long, with a diameter at the centre of 25.3 mm; the notched end is 17.5 mm wide and 12.5 mm thick immediately below the notch, while the peg end has a width of 9.6 mm. The string has a diameter of 3.5 mm and a strung length of 1820 mm.

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 1944.10.28-33; 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] [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, 1944.10.29 [plastic coated label, tied to object]; BURUN? DAR FUNG A.E. SUDAN. Coll. by Capt. L. Gorringe, 1902-1912. d.d. Mrs L. Gorringe 1944.10.29 [rectangular paper label, stuck to surface of object; RTS 27/9/2005].

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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