Arm ornament, Bongo?

Arm ornament, Bongo?
Other views of this artifact:

Accession Number:
[Southern Sudan]
Cultural Group:
Date Made:
?Before 1858
Iron Metal
Forged (Metal) , Hammered , Incised , Polished
L = 67.5 mm, W = 88.3 mm, W bar = 6.9 mm, Th bar 4 mm [RTS 5/4/2004].
55.0 g
Other Owners:
Collected by John Petherick in 1858 and shipped back to England in 1859. Subsequently acquired by Pitt Rivers, perhaps via auction, as Petherick is known to have sold some of his collection through Mr Bullock of High Holborn, London, on 27th June 1862 (se
Field Collector:
John Petherick
PRM Source:
Augustus Henry Lane Fox Pitt Rivers founding collection
Donated 1884
Collected Date:
Penannular arm ornament made from an iron bar with rectangular section, bent into a loop with open ends, 13 mm apart; the bar then begins to taper, and is folded back on itself on each side before continuing as convex arc-shaped projections that become round in section towards their ends. A series of incised notches have been cut into the top and bottom edges of the outside face of the main body; the projecting arcs are left plain. The body is further decorated with a running zigzag motif that extends around the centre of the outer face, with four parallel oblique lines cut into the central part of the flat upper surface. The object is complete and intact, and currently a metallic gray colour (Pantone 422C) with polished surfaces. It measures 67.5 mm across the outer edge, with a width of 88.3 mm, including the arms, while the bar from which the object has been made is 6.9 mm wide and 4 mm thick, with a diameter of 2.5 mm at the end of each arm. It has a total weight of 55 grams.

Collected by John Petherick in 1858 ; in that year Petherick led a trading expedition through Bongo territory, an account of which is given in his 1861 volume, Egypt, The Sudan and Central Africa; he refers to this group as the Dor. The expedition entered Bongo territory on January 25, 1858, visiting villages called Djau, Kurkur, Maeha, Mura, Umbura, Modocunga, Miha, Nearhe, Gutu, Mungela, Ombelambe and Lungo. Later in February they passed back through the Bongo villages of Djamaga and Lungo again. T his material was shipped back to England in 1859. Subsequently acquired by Pitt Rivers, perhaps via auction, as Petherick is known to have sold some of his collection through Mr Bullock of High Holborn, London, on 27th June 1862 (see the Catalogue of the very interesting collection of arms and implements of war, husbandry, and the chase, and articles of costume and domestic use, procured during several expeditions up the White Nile, Bahr-il-Gazal, and among the various tribes of the country, to the cannibal Neam Nam territory on the Equator, by John Petherick, Esq., H.M. Consul, Khartoum, Soudan ). Pitt Rivers sent this object to Bethnal Green Museum for display, as part of the first batch of objects sent there, probably in 1874. This object was later displayed in the South Kensington Museum, and transferred from there to become part of the founding collection of the Pitt Rivers Museum in 1884.

Egypt, The Sudan and Central Africa , 1861, p. 401, Petherick describes Bongo women as wearing numerous iron bracelets on their wrists. See also J.G. Wood, 1868, The Natural History of Man Vol. I, p. 499. “On their wrists they wear bracelets, made simply of iron bars cut to the proper length, and bent round the wrist.” A similar object was published by Schweinfurth, said to be worn around the wrist by the Bongo, but also popular with both men and women amongst the Dinka and Jur (G. Schweinfurth 1875, Artes Africanae, tab. III fig. 15).

Gayer-Anderson illustrates anklets or bracelets of similar design, which he says were worn by Kederu women for defence (R. Gayer Anderson, 1911, "Some Tribal Customs in their Relation to Medicine & Morals of the Nyam-Nyam and Gour Peoples Inhabiting The Bahr-el-Ghazal",
Wellcome Tropical Research Laboratories, Khartoum, rep. no. 4, vol. B, pl. XVIII nos 9 and 12). Similar bracelets were collected by Piaggia and are now the Museum of Perugia, see E. Castelli, 1984, Orazio Antinori in Africa Centrale 1859-1861, cat. no. 20, p. 46.

Rachael Sparks 30/9/2005.

Primary Documentation:
Accession Book V entry [p. 1] - [insert] 1884.82 [end insert] PERSONAL ORNAMENTS (contd from Vol. IV) METAL BANGLES, BRACELETS, ANKLETS 14) [insert] 32 [end insert] - Iron penannular bangle with semicircular projections at the ends ?DOR. Petherick coll. 1858 (?103) (?1621 black).
Additional Accession Book V Entry [p. opposite 1] - 14) [Drawing].
Collectors Miscellaneous XI Accession Book entry [p. 193] - PETHERICK, Consul [p. 195] [insert] 1884.82.32 [end insert] Iron bracelet with curved points [Drawing] ?DOR. C[ENTRAL] AFRICA. 1858. (P.R. ?103 ?1621). [p. 197] [insert] BONGO is tribe's name for itself. They are called DOR by neighbours [end insert, by BB].
Black book entry [p. 67] - 1621. Iron anklets (10) and bracelets. Dor tribe, C. Africa. Obtd by Petherick p. 110. [insert] 1884.78.43 + 44, 82.1, 2, 34-42, 53, ?32 [end insert]. [Note that while this makes a total of 15 items, of these, 1884.82.1-2 are actually Indian and do not belong in this group, while 1884.82.34 belongs with group PR 106/1619; the remaining 12 objects consist of 2 torques and 10 bracelets; RTS 4/12/2003].
Delivery Catalogue II entry [p. 300] - Personal Ornaments of various Nations [p. 305] [insert] 1884.78.43-4, 82.32, 35-42, 53 [end insert] 10 iron anklets and bracelets (Dor tribe Central Africa) 1621, Case 74, 345. [Note that there are 12 objects cross referenced to this entry, not 10; RTS 2/4/2004].
Card Catalogue Entry - There is no further information on the catalogue card [RTS 7/4/2004].
Old Pitt Rivers Museum label -
Iron bracelet of rectr. section with curved ends. ?DOR. C. AFRICA. Petherick coll. 1858. P.R. coll. (?black 1621) (103) [tied to object, RTS 1/4/2004] [reverse:] No is almost obliterated but is probably 1621 therefore Dor . 1884.82.32 [EC 'DCF 2004-2006 What's Upstairs?' 21/10/2005]
Written on object - DOR TRIBE CENTRAL AFRICA PETHERICK 1858 103 1621 [in red paint on side edge, very worn, especially number; RTS 1/4/2004].

Display History:
Displayed in Bethnal Green and South Kensington Museums (V&A) [AP].

Funded by Arts and Humanities Research Council
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