Dinka breast ornament

Dinka breast ornament
Other views of this artifact:

Accession Number:
[Southern Sudan] ?Warab Kornuk
Cultural Group:
Date Made:
By 1933
Hair , Glass
Twisted , Tied , ?Drawn , Strung
L as strung = 525 mm, Diam cord = 5 mm, Diam bead = 16 mm, ht bead = 12 mm, diam thread hole = 55 mm [RTS 21/6/2004].
102.3 g
Local Name:
Other Owners:
Collected by Percy Horace Gordon Powell-Cotton and his wife on 25th May 1933 during a shooting expedition
Field Collector:
Percy Horace Gordon Powell-Cotton & Hannah Powell-Cotton (nee Brayton)
PRM Source:
Percy Horace Gordon Powell-Cotton
Donated 1934
Collected Date:
25th May 1933
Chest ornament made from one very long cord of twisted wiry dark to medium brown coloured hair (Pantone black 4C, black 7C and 467C), looped over 8 times with the loose ends then wrapped around the strands at the top and knotted together. A single translucent bead has been threaded onto one of these loops, so that it hangs down at the centre of the base. This bead has a narrow flat upper and lower surface and convex sides, with a medium sized thread hole. The sides of this hole appear to be parallel, and there are numerous small bubbles in the glass matrix that are aligned with the hole, suggesting that the bead was probably made by being drawn. The surface of the bead is slightly pitted. The glass has a faint bluish tinge until held up to the light, at which point it appears to be more yellow in colour. The object is complete and intact, and weighs 102.3 grams in total. Its length, as strung, is 525 mm. The diameter of the cord is 5 mm, of the bead is 16 mm, and its thread hole 5 mm, while the bead has a height of 12 mm.

Collected by Percy Horace Gordon Powell-Cotton and his wife Hannah at Kornuk on 25th May 1933, during a shooting expedition.

The Dinka name for this type of object is
naim. It may be related to nai, a verb meaning to ‘twist’, or a noun, meaning a ‘twisted grass string (Nebel 1979, Dinka-English Dictionary, p. 60).

This type of bead is quite distinctive in shape and coloration; for similar beads, see 1934.8.70-71 (Lotuko, both strung onto hide necklets) and 1946.8.105 (Shilluk), as well as some examples collected by D. Gunn at Omdurman (1903.16.81 and 1903.16.84)

This object is currently on display in the Upper Gallery, case 26A.

Rachael Sparks 24/9/2005.

Primary Documentation:
Accession Book Entry [p. 248] 1934 [insert] 8 [end insert] - MAJOR P. H. G. POWELL-COTTON , Quex Park, Birchington, E. Kent. Specimens collected by himself & Mrs Cotton, during hunting trips, 1933, viz: - From the DINKA tribe, FANAMWEIR & KORNUK, WHITE NILE [...] [p. 250] [insert] 22 [end insert] - Naim , twisted cords of hair, with one large bead, worn over the chest, KORNUK. (2639).
Additional Accession Book Entry [p. 249] 1934.8.22 No. given AP.

Card Catalogue Entry - There is no further information on the catalogue card [RTS 9/3/2004].

Related Documents File - Typewritten List of "Curios Presented to Dr. Balfour by Major & Mrs. Powell-Cotton. Dinka Tribe". This object appears as item 2639: "8 chest strands of hair, 1 blue bead, native name Naim , 25/5/33 Kornuk, 7.53 N 28.9 E". Also contains details of a cine film 'some tribes of the Southern Sudan', taken by Powell-Cotton during this 1933 expedition, copies of which are now in the National Film and Television Archive and the Powell-Cotton Museum in Kent [RTS 14/3/2005].

Old Pitt Rivers Museum label - Rectangular metal edged label: Naim , chest-strands of hair. DINKA, KORNUK, WHITE NILE, 7° 53' N., 28° 9' E. d.d. Major Powell-Cotton, 1934 (2639) [front], 1934.8.22 [back] [RTS 9/11/2004].

Display History:
Current display label - annotated 1934.8.22 on back, typewritten front: WHITE NILE, KORNUK, DINKA. Naim, twisted hair cords, worn over the chest. d.d. Major Powell-Cotton, 1934. (2639) [in case U.26.A, RTS 9/11/2004].

Funded by Arts and Humanities Research Council
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