Bow, Burun?

Bow, Burun?
Other views of this artifact:

Accession Number:
Blue Nile ?Darfung
Cultural Group:
Date Made:
By 1912
?Bamboo Plant , ?Wood Plant , Sinew , Reptile Skin , ?Snake Skin Reptile
Carved , Stained , Bound , Twisted , Strung , Knotted
L = 1852 mm, diam shaft = 25.5 mm, W flattened ends = 24.7, th = 26.5 mm; diam cord = 2.5 mm, w strips = 5 mm [RTS 7/10/2004].
781.5 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 4 segments visible. Most of the bow shaft is round in section, following the natural shape of the wood; this has been shaved flat along the inside face of either end to create a more rectangular section, 400 mm from one end, and 340 mm from the other; the outer face remains slightly curved. These flattened sections were both originally bound with narrow rectangular strips of lizard or snake skin to prevent splitting. This was originally a light yellowish brown (Pantone 7508C), but is now very much discoloured. This binding is still in place at the top of the bow shaft, but a section of some 70 mm at its base appears to be missing, leaving marks on the surface to show where it had originally been positioned. Similar marks and some residual skin are present around the lower part of the bow, to show that this also had been bound. The flat inner surface of the shaft has a groove along its centre; surface dirt and the existing strips make it unclear whether a similar groove is also present on the other end. At the base of the bow, the body has been cut back to create a notch in the centre, leaving one side longer than the other. At the top of the bow, the sides have been further cut down and shaped to create a short knob that splays out slightly towards its top, with two grooves cut across the upper face. This knob is used to seat the end of the bowstring, which is no longer taut; it is possible that the base notch had a similar function, allowing the bow to be strung from either end. The bowstring has been made from three strands of animal sinew, twisted together to form a thick cord. The bow was strung by winding this cord 47 times around the lower part of the bow shaft, just above the binding, the upper end tucked under the coils to secure it, with the lower end pushed under the last loop of cord, and then pulled up the length of the bow, before being looped twice over the top knob, tightened, and then tied off with a knot. The cord was originally yellow in colour (Pantone 7508C), but the surface has darkened to brown. The natural colour of the bow body appears to be yellow, which is visible in places under the shaft binding, however elsewhere the surface is a reddish brown colour (Pantone 476C) and has probably been stained. The bow and its string have a combined weight of 781.5 grams. The bow shaft is 1852 mm long, with a maximum diameter of 25.5 mm; the flattened part of the shaft is 24.7 mm wide and 26.5 mm thick. The binding strips are around 5 mm wide, and the cord has a diameter of 2.5 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.

Currently on display in the Upper Gallery, case 14A.

Rachael Sparks 29/8/2005.

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]; L = 1850 mm strung [black ink insert] A19 F12 21 + 22 [red insert - it is not clear which bows have been photographed] ['Weapons - offensive - Archery - Bows' RTS 23/7/2004].

Old Pitt Rivers Museum label - BURUN? DAR FUNG, A.-E. SUDAN. coll. by Capt. L. Gorringe, 1902-1912. d.d. Mrs L. Gorringe [on label stuck onto object; RTS 7/10/2004].

Related Documents File 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].

Funded by Arts and Humanities Research Council
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