Northern Larim shield

Northern Larim shield
Other views of this artifact:

Accession Number:
[Southern Sudan] Eastern Equatoria Lomachada
Cultural Group:
Northern Larim
Date Made:
By 1979
Buffalo Cattle Skin Animal , Wood Plant
Carved , Perforated , Incised , Stitched , Plaited , Bound Polished
Wooden strut L = 405, W = 16, th = 13.5 mm; hide body L = 330, max W = 240, th = 6 mm; handle guard plate W = 77.2, th = 6 mm; side handle L = 105, W = 17, th = 3 mm; thong stitching W = 4 mm [RTS 24/3/2005].
571.9 g
Local Name:
kilip chidoro
Other Owners:
Purchased by Patti Langton for 1.50 on 21st March 1979 at the home of the potter of Lomachada village, as part of the British Institute in Eastern Africa's Expedition to the Southern Sudan [RTS 10/6/2004].
Field Collector:
Patti Langton
PRM Source:
Patti Langton
Purchased 1979
Collected Date:
21 March 1979
Small parry shield formed from a rectangular piece of thick buffalo hide, with straight long sides and slightly convex upper and lower edges, flaring out to form projecting horns at each corner, with a short triangular tab of hide extending from the centre of the base; this has been bent upwards and slightly inwards. Deep incised lines have been cut just parallel to the edges of the shield body as a decorative frame. The front surface is irregularly concave across its width, and convex down its length. A raised, rounded rib runs down the centre of the shield, where the hide has been pushed up from the underside. This is flanked by large stitches on either side, made from narrow hide thongs, doubled up, and arranged in single pairs at top and bottom with 2 double pairs in the centre. The hide and thongs are both an orangey brown colour (Pantone 729C), with the latter serving to hold a wooden strut on the back of the shield in place. This has been carved from a single piece of orange to reddish brown wood (Pantone 729C). It extends just above the top of the shield body, where there is a small v-shaped notch cut into one side, and beyond its base; it has a sub-rectangular section, and has been polished. The centre of the strut has been bent outwards to form a hand grip, while a thick lentoid-shaped piece of dark brown hide has been cut out and fitted beneath the grip to protect the hand (Pantone 7533C). This is raised slightly above the back of the shield by the two ends of a narrow hide strap, that extend out on one side to form a small carrying or suspension handle. The grip protector and hide handle are held in place by hide thongs passing through them at top and bottom; these form some of the thong stitches visible on the front of the shield. The remaining stitches were used to fix the upper and lower parts of the wooden strut in place. This is further bound round with a series of narrower hide strips, that pass around the wood and then were plaited together to form a raised section running down its length. The binding does not cover the actual handle area, or those parts of the wood that extend beyond the shield body. There are also 3 hide loops down the length of this binding; a narrow elongated loop at the top of the strut, presumably for suspension, and 2 thicker and smaller loops just above and below the handle area; these have been themselves bound round with hide. The shield would have been shaped while the hide was wet. It is essentially complete, but one corner tab has broken off and is missing, the hide has split down the edges on both sides and the exterior surface has some hairline cracks across it, while the wood is split at the base of the strut and down the centre of the handle, and has broken across its top part, underneath the binding. There is also some wear at the base of the wooden strut. It has a weight of 571.9 grams. The body is 330 mm long, 240 mm wide and 6 mm thick; the wooden strut is 405 mm long, 16 mm wide and 13.5 mm thick; the handle guard plate is 77.2 mm wide and 6 mm thick, and the side handle is 105 mm long, 17 mm wide and 3 mm thick. The thong stitching is 4 mm wide.

Purchased by Patti Langton for £1.50 on 21st March 1979, at the home of the potter of Lomachada Village, in the Kisawo clan area, as part of the British Institute in Eastern Africa's Expedition to the Southern Sudan.

This is a fighting shield, known as kilip chidoro. This style of rectangular hide shield is also found amongst other cultural groups in southern Sudan and northern Uganda, including the Southern Larim (see 1979.20.180), Toposa (1939.7.120), Turkana, Suk, Didinga, Lango and Acholi (1952.5.10); see M. Trowell & K.P. Wachsmann, 1953, Tribal Crafts of Uganda, 229-230 and pl. 58.A1-2 and B1-2, and J.H. Driberg, 1923, The Lango, 81-82, both of whom describe how these shields were made. Amongst both the Acholi and the Lango, both authors suggest that balls of feathers would be added to the base of the shield prior to battle. Driberg tells us that Lango men usually made their own shields (op.cit., 82). The Acholi and Lango versions tend to be larger than those used by the Toposa, Didinga, Turkana and Larim, who tend to use them as parry shields in close combat (C. Spring, 1993, African Arms and Armour, p. 121; J. Mack, 1982, "Material Culture and Ethnic Identity in Southeastern Sudan, in J. Mack & P. Robertshaw (eds), Culture History in the Southern Sudan, p. 116 and fig. 2).

Rachael Sparks 8/9/2005.

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 alootment of the collection do not appear on her list and have been added here. See Related Documents file as well. [p. 204] 1979.20.136 - 193 SOUTHERN SUDAN the LARIM The Larim live about 50 miles west of Kapoeta in the eastern corner of S. Sudan. They are a non-Nilotic pastoral people, living in permanent mountain villages. They are part of the Didinga-Longarim-Murle language group. They live in the Boya Hills - Boya is the Topasa (neighbouring group) name for the Larim, which is also used by the Administration. Longarim is the Didinga's name for them but they call themselves the Larim, and that is used here. [p. 205] The LARIM The collection was made in two parts. The "PL" labelled material was collected during Pat Langton's stay in a village in the Northern Larim area. The "∆" labelled material was collected by Jill Goudie, one of the archaeologists on the Expedition, from the base camp LARYOK, among the Southern Larim. Money is known among the Larim but it is used only for buying beads for women from Kapoeta, or for the few members of the group who would go to Juba. The women especially were more interested in exchange gifts of salt, cloth & soap. The Larim material is documented in three parts: a) General Larim pieces - no information as to which section of the Larim it comes from b) the "PL" Collection from the Northern Larim, from three of the eight Northern Larim clans c) the Southern Larim material collected by Jill Goudie, numbered "∆". [p. 206] 1979.20.140 - 148 NORTH LARIM/BOYA KISAWO CLAN AREA LOMACHADA VILLAGE 21-3-79 [p. 207] 1979.20.146 Buffalo skin fighting shield, kilip chidoro . Total L = 41.5 cm. Coll. no. PL 13. Cost 50 pt .
Additional Accession Book Entry [below accession number in red biro] - A5-F35-19, 20. [page opposite 207] 1973.20.146 Collector's number should be PL 14, and cost £1.50 (see RDF - RTS 12/1/2004).

Card Catalogue Entry
- There is no further information on the catalogue card [RTS 25/5/2004].

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. This item appears in Langton's list under the heading 'purchased at the home of the potter, Kisawo clan area Lomachada village' [RTS 12/1/2004].

Funded by Arts and Humanities Research Council
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