Acholi flute

Acholi flute
Other views of this artifact:

Accession Number:
Cultural Group:
Date Made:
By March 1970
Wood Plant , Lizard Skin Reptile , Plant Fibre , String
Carved , Hollowed , Burnt , Covered , Stitched
L = 142, external L embouchure = 26.5, external W embouchure = 24.3, internal diam = 18; finger-hole external L = 8 by 6; internal opening = 4; skin L = 120 mm; cord W = 1 mm [RTS 7/12/2004].
19.2 g
Other Owners:
Purchased by Chloe Vulliamy from The National Handicraft Centre, Kampala on 11th March 1970 for 4.30 Ugandan shillings.
Field Collector:
Chloe Vulliamy
PRM Source:
Chloe Vulliamy
Purchased 1970
Collected Date:
11th March 1970
Small wooden notched end-blown flute with hollow interior. This has a broad embouchure, with the lip cut to slope down towards the outer edge. This lip is concave at front and back, rising to a point at either side, making it lentoid in plan view, with a circular hole through the centre. There is no sign that any material has been added to the lip interior to adjust the aperture. The body is narrow and slightly convex down one side, tapering to a flat-cut finger-hole at the base. Most of the body has been covered with a rectangular strip of yellowish green lizard skin (Pantone 7401C to 5865C), folded around the circumference with the two ends loosely stitched together in a vertical seam, that leaves a raised ridge running down the length. The stitching was done using a length of pale cream coloured 2 ply plant fibre string (Pantone 7506C). The upper exposed part of the wood, and the base underside have been burnt black; the natural colour of the wood is a much lighter yellow (Pantone 7507C). The whistle appears to be complete, but there are some splits running up from the finger-hole, and it has been mended. It has a weight of 19.2 grams and is 143 mm long. The embouchure measures 26.5 by 24.3 mm across its exterior, with internal diameter of 18 mm; the finger-hole measures 8 by 6 across its outside edges and 4 mm across its opening; these measurements are distorted by the cracks in this area. The piece of reptile skin is 120 mm long, and the stitching cord is 1 mm wide.

Purchased by Chloe Vulliamy from The National Handicraft Centre at Kampala on 11th March 1970 for 4.30 Ugandan shillings. It is said to be played at dances; this example has a rather 'touristy' appearance and may never have been used.

This object is currently on display in the Court, Case 85A.

Rachael Sparks 14/9/2005.

Primary Documentation:
Accession Book Entry - P[urchased]. Miss Chloe Vulliamy, ... Deddington, Oxon. Collected for the Museum during the spring of 1970. - UGANDA, ACHOLI TRIBE. 'Dancing horn', small straight tube of wood, expand[ ed] ing towards distal end. Covered with lizard skin. For blowing at dances. L. 14.2 cm. Mouth was broken by accident but repaired at the museum by R.P. Rivers.
Additional accession book entry [relating to items 1970.13.19-27] - These specimens were bought from The National Handicraft Centre, Kampala. [page opposite 185] - Documents relating to purchase of collection in RDF.

Card Catalogue Entry - EAST AFRICA, UGANDA, ACHOLI TRIBE. 1970.12.22. 'Dancing horn', small straight tube of wood, expanding towards distal end. Covered with lizard skin. For blowing at dances. :. 14.2 CM. Mouth was broken by accident before coming to the Museum. Repaired by R.P. Rivers. B[ough]t at the National Handicraft Centre KAMPALA for the museum by Miss c. Vulliamy, spring 1970.

Related Documents File - This item appears on a list in RDF 1970.13.19-27, headed 'UGANDA', as item 11 'Acholi dancing horn' with note 'sent. Repaired at museum'. This also appears on an associated receipt, dated 11/3/70, bearing the letterhead of the 'Uganda Government NATIONAL HANDICRAFT CENTRE KAMPALA', as '1 dancing horn, 4.30 [shillings]', which is crossed out and annotated 'sent', and '11', cross referencing it to the previous list, with further comment on top of list '17 shillings to the £'. There is also a direction, signed by Bernard Fagg, and dated 15th June 1970, for Barclays Bank to pay Vulliamy the sum of £33.19 (for all the items presented) [RTS 5/1/2004].

Display History:
Currently on display with label - AFRICA, UGANDA, ACHOLI. Wooden end-blown flute covered with lizard skin. For blowing at dances. Coll. Miss C. Vulliamy, 1970. Purch. 1970.13.22 [RTS 6/12/2004].

Funded by Arts and Humanities Research Council
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