Acholi bag

Acholi bag
Other views of this artifact:

Accession Number:
Uganda , [Sudan]
Masindi District Kibanda County Kiryandongo Refugee Settlement [Southern Sudan]
Cultural Group:
Members of the Equatoria Civic Fund women's group
Date Made:
By 1997
Nylon Synthetic , Wool Yarn Animal , Animal Leather Skin , Wood Plant
Twined Woven , Stitched Perforated , Basketry , Decorated Dyed , Carved , Written
Total L = 660; handle L = 470, W = 26, th = 1.5; bag body L 192, rim W = 325, rim th = 5 mm [RTS 31/8/2005].
Local Name:
Other Owners:
Made by members of the Equatoria Civic Fund Women's Group and obtained by Tania Kaiser 1997; sold to PRM on 19th January 1998 for 16.
Field Collector:
Tania Kaiser
PRM Source:
Tania Kaiser
Purchased 19 January 1998
Collected Date:
Bag with a circular mouth that is pulled into a flatter shape when closed, upright walls and a convex underside with slightly pointed centre. This has a flexible body made from soft black wool and coloured shiny raffia-like nylon fibre twined around a series of stiffer vertical elements, or warp, made from a twisted blue synthetic cord, the ends of project upwards to form a blue rim around the top. The weave pattern consists of a series of horizontal bands around the body that alternate between vertical and oblique patterns, with each band made up of groups of opposing colours. Immediately below the rim is a band of pale green (Pantone 344C) and pink nylon (Pantone 190C) arranged in vertical stripes, followed by 3 bands of oblique green nylon and black wool stripes (Pantone Black 6C), alternating with 3 bands of pink nylon and black wool vertical stripes. There is a further band of oblique pink and green nylon stripes below, the same colours in a vertical pattern, and then a final band of green and pale pink oblique stripes; the rest of the base is made up of plain green nylon weave. These patterns are also visible on the interior walls, where there are a series of concentric rows of blue nylon cord loops visible. The bag has been given some additional trim in a soft leather, dyed red (Pantone 490C). This consists of a tapering triangular flap with a hole in one end, sewn with twisted European thread to the centre of the rim; this folds over the mouth and down the front of the bag, where it can be secured through the hole via a cylindrical toggle in a pale yellow wood (Pantone 7507C). The toggle has been waisted at the centre, and is fastened onto the side of the bag with a narrow piece of leather. This closure flap has the letters 'SH-SSS' pencilled across the top. The bag also has 2 shoulder straps, made from rectangular leather strips, and stitched to the upper body with yet another piece of leather, knotted on the inside walls. Pen markings are visible on the underside, where the strips were planned out prior to being cut. Further decorative trim has been added below the base of each handle, consisting of 3 parallel strips sewn through the body, with the ends hanging as loose tassels. The bag is complete and intact; it looks unused, although there is some surface dirt on the underside of the base. It has a weight of 434.9 grams and a total length of 660 mm; the handles are 470 mm long (from the mouth to the top of the loop), 26 mm wide and 1.5 mm thick; the body has rim width, when flattened, of 325 mm, a rim thickness of 5 mm, and a body length of 192 mm.

Made by members of the Equatoria Civic Fund Women's Group
in the Kiryandongo Refugee settlement and obtained by Tania Kaiser in 1997; purchased by the Pitt Rivers Museum on 19th January 1998. Kaiser conducted fieldwork camp from October 1996 to March 1997, and between June and November 1997. For details of her research, see: T. Kaiser, 1999, Living in Limbo: Insecurity and the Settlement of Sudanese Refugees in Northern Uganda (Unpublished PhD); T. Kaiser, "Making Do and Making Beautiful: Recycling in an African Refugee Settlement", in: J. Coote, C. Morton and J. Nicholson (eds), Transformations, the Art of Recyclying, 44-47; T. Kaiser, 2000, UNHCR's Withdrawal from Kiryandongo: Anatomy of a Handover , New Issues in Refugee Research Working Paper No. 32, 1, 3.

Kaiser described this object as a 'bag of kiondo type'. Kiondo is not an Acholi term, but refers to a similar type of basket hand-woven from sisal fibre by the Kikuyu and Akamba of Kenya and usually coloured with natural dyes. Leather patterns and straps are often added as a finish, although in this particular case, leather was not available and pieces of textile were used in its place. Traditionally these were used to hold staples such as beans and maize, but are now sold as fashion items. In recent years, machine made imitations have been produced by countries in the far east such as China and Taiwan (;;, accessed 31/8/2005). In the refugee camp, these sorts of handicrafts were made either individually by women, to use, or as gifts, or by women's groups associated with churches or small local development projects, as was the case with this object. These tended to be sold within the community, and some women complained that they lacked the materials needed to carry out this kind of work.

Rachael Sparks 31/8/2005.

Primary Documentation:
Day book entry - 20/1[/98]. D[onation]. MdA. [donor] TANIA KAISER. 1998.9. AFRICA, UGANDA, MASINIDI DISTRICT, KIRYANDONGO REFUGEE SETTLEMENT. Collection of objects collected by donor.

Pitt Rivers Museum label - AFRICA, UGANDA, MASINDI DISTRICT; SUDANESE ACHOLI? Basket of 'kiondo' type. Coll. Tania Kaiseer, 1997. 19987.9.5 [plastic label with metal eyelet, tied to object; RTS 31/8/2005].

Related Documents File - RDF 1998.9: Acquisition Record, dated 19/1/1998, for 'collection of material from Uganda'. Memo dated 21/1/1998 from Jeremy Coote to Julia Cousins, dated 23/1/1998 regarding enclosed invoice for £150 from Tania Kaiser for 'collection of artefacts from Northern Uganda'. This object appears on an attached list as item 5: "Basket. 'kiondo' type made from nylon and wool with leather trim by members of the ECF Women's Group". It was purchased by the PRM for £16. There is also a typed document on file, titled "Kiryandongo Refugee Settlement, Masindi District, Uganda. Background to objects collected from a predominantly Sudanese Acholi community in 1997 by Tania Kaiser". The refugee settlement is described as being 14 kms from Kiryandongo town, near Bweyale and Nyakadot. The population is predominantly Acholi, but other groups represented there include Latuko, Madi, Bari and some Zande. There is a small market within the settlement itself, but many people go to the market at nearby Bweyale. Handcrafts are rarely sold in the settlement or in Bweyale in any systematic way. Most commonly made objects are embroidered tablecloths or bed sheets and crocheted food covers or chair backs; these tend to be produced individually by woman to use or as gifts, or by women's groups associated with churches or small local development projects, who sell them to members of the community; none so far have managed to establish an external market. One of these groups have recently diversified into pottery and two or three have also begun basket making. Individual women complain that they are unable to undertake these sorts of activities as they do not have access to the necessary materials [RTS 15/12/2003].

Funded by Arts and Humanities Research Council
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