Bongo arm ornament

Bongo arm ornament
Other views of this artifact:

Accession Number:
[Southern Sudan]
Cultural Group:
Date Made:
?Before 1858
Iron Metal
Forged (Metal) , Hammered , Incised , Polished
L = 63.2 mm, W = 68 mm, Max W band = 15.9 mm, Min W band = 3.5 mm, Th band = 2-3 mm [RTS 5/4/2004].
44.3 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 bracelet made from a wide rectangular band with flat inner face and side edges and concave outer face, bent into an oval loop with open ends, 22 mm apart; at this point, the ends are bent back onto their outside faces, before continuing as two tapering, projecting convex arcs, the tips of which have also been folded back onto themselves to form a slightly thicker knob end, now worn. The top and bottom edges of the outer face have been decorated with a row of finely incised notches; some of these have worn away in places. The outer surface and edges have been polished; the inside faces are more roughly finished. The object is complete and intact, with some surface wear evident, and is currently a metallic gray colour (Pantone 422C). It measures 63.2 by 68 mm across the outside edges, including the arcs, and 60 mm across the inside edge. The band from which it has been made has a maximum width of 15.9 mm, a minimum width of 3.5 mm at the ends, and a thickness of 2-3 mm; it weighs 44.3 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 16) [insert] 35 [end insert] - Bracelet of iron band [insert] with serrated edge & [end insert] with curved points of same form as X above [1884.82.32, 'with semicircular projections at the ends'] DOR. Petherick coll. (103).
Additional Accession Book V Entry [p. opposite 1] - 16) [Drawing], [for entries 1884.82.35-42] - black (1621).
Collectors Miscellaneous XI Accession Book entry [p. 193] - PETHERICK, Consul [p. 195] [insert] 1884.82.35 [end insert]. Ribbon shaped iron bracelet with curved p[oin]ts. [Drawing] DOR. 1858. ([part of] 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].
Old Pitt Rivers Museum label -
Penannular iron ribbon bangle with curved points. DOR. C. AFRICA. Petherick coll. 1858. P.R. coll. (?Black 1621) (103) [tied to object, RTS 1/4/2004] [reverse:] 1884.82.35 P.R. Coll [?1621] ? (103). [EC 'DCF 2004-2006 What's Upstairs?' 21/10/2005]
Written on object - [...] TRIBE CENTRAL [...] [The object had been marked in red paint on the inside face, but this is now largely illegible; RTS 5/4/2004].

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

Funded by Arts and Humanities Research Council
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