Bari headrest

Bari headrest
Other views of this artifact:

Accession Number:
[Southern Sudan] Bahr el Jebel Gondokoro
Cultural Group:
Date Made:
By 1903
Wood Plant , Animal Hide Skin
Carved , Perforated , Stained Polished , Knotted , Decorated , Incised
Ht = 154 mm, top L = 188, W = 85, th = 8.5 mm; pedestal W = 80, th = 22.7, diam hole = 6, w hide strips = 5 mm; base L = 95.8, W = 64.1, th = 22.5 mm [RTS 26/8/2004].
293.9 g
Other Owners:
Hugh Rochfort Maxsted
Field Collector:
?Hugh Rochfort Maxsted
PRM Source:
Hugh Rochfort Maxsted via William Leonard Stevenson Loat [Maxted]
Donated February 1903
Collected Date:
By 1903
Headrest carved from a single piece of wood and consisting of a rectangular top with very slightly concave front and back edges, cut flat on the sides and underside, and slightly concave along the length of the upper surface. The latter is decorated at either end with two bands, each delineated on their inside edge by a straight line that runs across the width. On one side, this creates a band that is 22 to 24 mm wide, filled with a series of intersecting oblique lines in an irregular crosshatched pattern. On the other side, the band is only 6 to 10 mm wide, and is filled with random oblique lines running in opposing directions, but not intersecting. A pedestal foot extends from the centre of the underside. This consists of two rounded vertical columns, with flat sided horizontal struts connecting them at the top and bottom; the area between the struts has been cut away to leave a rectangular window. The top strut has been perforated with a row of three holes; the lower strut has three completed holes and a partially finished fourth hole that has been bored from both sides, but not fully perforated. Three narrow rectangular strips of animal hide have been strung between the finished pairs of holes at top and bottom, secured by knots at either end to create a triple stranded carrying loop. Below this, the pedestal is completed with an everted H-shaped foot, flattened on the upper surface, sides and base underside. The cross bar between the two sides of this foot is recessed on its underside, and does not touch the ground. The headrest is complete and intact, with a warm yellowish to reddish brown surface that has probably been stained and then polished (Pantone 731C); the original yellow colour of the wood is visible on the underside of the foot (Pantone 7507C). The top is 188 mm long, 85 mm wide and 8.5 mm thick; the pedestal is 80 mm wide and 22.7 mm thick, with holes measuring 6 mm in diameter, and hide strips that are 5 mm wide, while the base is 95.8 mm long, 64.1 mm wide and 22.5 mm thick. The headrest as a whole has a height of 154 mm and weighs 293.9 grams.

Collected at Gondokoro, which is located on the Bahr el Jebel river, in the modern administrative district known as Bahr el Jebel, just northeast of Juba. At the time this object was collected, the Ugandan border lay just north of Gondokoro (it was moved further south in 1910), hence the association in the accessions book of this object with Uganda.

This object was donated to the Pitt Rivers Museum by Hugh Rochfort Maxsted, via William Leonard Stevenson Loat. Loat is known to have collected Bari material from Gondokoro, but it is not yet known what Maxsted's connection might have been with the Sudan, if any, and who was the actual collector of this item. Maxsted is most famous for writing a trilogy of books on his travels by car, largely through Europe (1904:
Three Men in a Motor Car; 1905: Through Brittany in a Motor Car and Three Thousand Miles in a Motor Car) .

Rachael Sparks 23/08/2005.

Primary Documentation:
Accession Book Entry [III, p. 103] - [pencil insert] 3 [end insert] Feb. HUGH ROCHFORT MAXSTED Esq through Mr Loat, [pencil insert] 1 [end insert] Bari wooden pillow, Gondokoro, Uganda Prov.

Card Catalogue Entry - EAST AFRICA, UGANDA, GONDOKORO, BARI TRIBE. Wooden pillow. d.d. H.R. Maxsted, through W.L.S. Loat, Feb. 1903.

Written on object - Head rest. BARI, GONDOKORO, WHITE NILE. Pres by H.R. Maxted 1903 [RTS 26/8/2004].

Funded by Arts and Humanities Research Council
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