Moru Misa cooking pot

Moru Misa cooking pot
Other views of this artifact:

Accession Number:
[Southern Sudan] Western Equatoria Lui
Cultural Group:
Moru Misa
Date Made:
By 1979
Handbuilt , Decorated , Impressed , Incised , Fire-Hardened
Ht = 200; rim diam = 240 x 247; rim th = 4; maximum diam body = 270 mm [RTS 3/6/2005].
> 1000 g
Local Name:
Other Owners:
Purchased by Patti Langton on 5th February 1979 for 50 piastres as part of the British Institute in Eastern Africa's Expedition to the Southern Sudan [RTS 14/5/2004].
Field Collector:
Patti Langton
PRM Source:
Patti Langton
Purchased 1979
Collected Date:
5 February 1979
Pottery bowl made from a coarsely levigated fabric with mica and some large stone inclusions, fired at a low temperature to create a mottled reddish brown (Pantone 479C) to black surface inside and out. The vessel has an inturned rim with narrow flat top, on a deep hemispherical body with convex base. Apart from a narrow reserved band that was wiped immediately below the rim, the entire exterior surface has been covered with impressed decoration, consisting of a series of closely spaced oval depressions, probably made using a roulette tool. In a few areas the decoration has been distorted or smoothed, probably as the pot was being hand turned while applying the design. The vessel is nearly complete, but has a small section of the rim missing. There are also several small cracks around the rim. It has a weight in excess of 1000 grams, and is 200 mm high, with a rim diameter of 240 by 247 mm and rim thickness of 4 mm; the maximum diameter across the shoulders of the vessel is 270 mm.

Purchased by Patti Langton at Lui on 5th February 1979 for 50 piastres as part of the British Institute in Eastern Africa's Expedition to the Southern Sudan.

This type of pot was called
wese and is used for cooking durka, a type of sorghum porridge. For a similar vessel Moru Misa vessel made from the same fabric and with comparable decoration, see 1979.20.33.

For a photograph showing a female Moru potter using a roulette to apply decoration to a pottery vessel, see N. Barley, 1994,
Smashing Pots, p. 36 top (photograph by John Mack; this similarly covers large parts of the vessel surface). Different styles of grass roulette may be found in the Pitt Rivers Museum collection; plaited grass strings (1979.20.28, Moru Misa; 1979.20.125-6, from the Dinka Tuich), and string wrapped around sticks (1949.20.27, Moru Misa).

A number of South Sudanese clays seem to contain particles of mica, including those used by the Zande and Bongo
(P.M. Larken, 1926, "An Account of the Zande", Sudan Notes and Records IX no. 1, p. 4; G. Schweinfurth, 1873, In the Heart of Africa Volume I, p. 292; Volume II, p. 25).

Rachael Sparks 29/8/2005.

Primary Documentation:
Accession Book Entry [p. 185] - 1979.20 (.1 - 206) P[urchase] MISS PATTI LANGTON, DEPT. of ETHNOLOGY & PREHISTORY, OXFORD. Collection made by Patti Langton during the British Institute in East Africa's expedition to the Southern Sudan; Jan. - April 1979. The collection was made in three culture areas during the dry season. The amount paid for each object is listed if the information is known. In Jan. 1979 £1 is equivalent to 95 piastres (pt.) Sudanese. This documentation is based largely upon Patti's own list of objects and her notes on these. Sometimes objects included in the Pitt Rivers alottment of the collection do not appear on her list and have been added here. See Related Documents file as well. [pp 185 - 186] 1979.20.1 - 42 SOUTHERN SUDAN the MORU MISA The Moru Misa live about 100 miles west of Juba, the capital of the Southern Sudan. Part of the collection was made in Lui, a small town which has had extensive church and missionary activity over the past 50 years (excluding the period of civil war) and which now boasts a church, a hospital and a number of schools. The rest of the Moru Misa collection was made at Lanyi, 15 miles away, where the paramount chief of the area, Chief Elinama, arranged for people to bring artifacts for us to buy. Although money is known to the Moru, its use is limited and the concept of selling belongings is foreign to them. Hence the low prices and the relatively small number of artefacts. The Moru Misa are a geographical section of the Moru people. The Moru practice agriculture for subsistence; they do not keep cattle any longer. [p. 188] 1979.20.13 - Pot, wese , for cooking sorghum porridge, durka . H = 20 cm., diam. = 24.8 cm. Coll. in Lui, 5.2.79; 50 pt. Coll. no. 36.
Additional Accession Book Entry [in red biro under accession number] - A5-F32-3.

Card Catalogue Entry - There is no further information on the tribes catalogue card [RTS 2/6/2004].

Written on object - 36 [white chalk, inside vessel]; S. SUDAN, MORU MISA, Pat Langton coll., 36, 1979.20.13 [black ink, inside rim; RTS 3/6/2005].

Related Documents File - 1979.20 contains a typed packing list, which has been annotated; a typed list of objects arranged by Langton collection numbers and with pencil and biro annotations, and a handwritten list of objects by museum number, essentially repeating this information and annotated with PRM photo numbers in red. This handwritten list seems to be the direct source for the accession book entry [RTS 12/1/2004].

Funded by Arts and Humanities Research Council
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