Southern Larim lamellaphone

Southern Larim lamellaphone
Other views of this artifact:

Accession Number:
[Southern Sudan] Eastern Equatoria Loryok
Cultural Group:
Southern Larim
Date Made:
By March 1979
Wood Plant , Iron Metal , Tin Metal , Textile
Carved , Hollowed , Perforated , Recycled , Hammered
Sound board L = 260, W = 175, th = 8.5 (at overhang); sound box Ht = 39; lamellae L = 105 to 160; max W = 4; bakcrest L = 160, W = 15.7, Ht = 12; bar L = 152, th = 1.5; bridge L = 141, Ht = 10, th = 1.5; triangular sound hole = 20 by 27; front circular so
611.6 g
Other Owners:
Purchased by Jill Goudie for 1 from the base camp at Loryok for the British Institute in Eastern Africa's Expedition to the Southern Sudan, headed by Patti Langton, between 20th and 25th March 1979 [RTS 12/5/2004].
Field Collector:
Jill Goudie
PRM Source:
Patti Langton
Purchased 1979
Collected Date:
20 - 25 March 1979
Lamellaphone with an almost rectangular soundbox that narrows slightly to one end. The box has been made from five pieces of a yellowish brown wood (Pantone 463C), fastened together along the edges with rows of flat-headed iron nails. The soundboard is flat, and overhangs the rest of the body at the proximal end. A thick wooden backrest with oval section has been fixed across the width near this edge; no nails are visible on the upper surface and it may have been glued in place, or is simply held down by the tension of the lamellae on top. The bridge has been formed from a rectangular strip of recycled iron with traces of yellow paint on the exterior, placed parallel to the backrest with its two arms bent inwards at right angles. A narrow tension bar, made from a length of iron wire, has been fitted across the top of the ends of these arms, also parallel to the backrest; the ends of the wire bend down into the sound board, while it is fixed in place along its length by 6 vertical wire tie loops that similarly pass through holes in the wood below. The instrument has 8 lamellae, made from recycled spokes from a bicycle wheel, with rectangular bodies that flatten and splay out at one end; one still has the end knob from the original spoke in place. These tongues have been arranged in two groups of four tongues, with a gap in the centre. Each tongue begins on the backrest or just beyond it, passes under the bar, then continues over the top of the bridge; they are separated from one another by the wire loops that hold down the bar. Five of these have been fitted with loose cylindrical sheaths made from pieces of reused tin, three in the left group and two in the right group. The latter have traces of printing on the surface, that read: 'and down' and 'slowly u...'. The sheaths rattle by moving up and down the lamellae shafts.

The soundboard has a triangular sound hole cut near the front end. The sides of the soundbox are made from four flat pieces of wood; the front piece has a circular sound hole at its centre, while the long side pieces vary slightly in shape. One has a curved end, pierced with a pair of holes through which a suspension loop made of recycled faded blue checkweave cloth has been tied (Pantone 5415C). The other has a narrow tongue projecting along the underside of the sound board, broken off at its end where the nail used to secure it to the sound board has caused the wood to split. The underside of the box is flat, and has a worn circular sound hole cut near the right hand edge. The instrument is nearly complete; a small part of the sound box has broken and is missing, as described above and the base of the back rest has split; the ends of the lamellae are worn smooth through use, and there is a suggestion that there may have been more of these originally in place, as there are at least 3 areas along the backrest where grooves have been worn into the surface of the wood, but no lamellae are now present. These also correspond with 'spaces' between the fitted wire loops where additional lamellae could have once been present. It is less clear if there were originally lamella fitted across the central area, between the two current lamellae groups, although some wear is also evident here. The edges of the soundbox are also worn.

The object has a weight of 611.6 grams. The sound board is 260 mm long, 175 mm wide and 8.5 mm thick at its overhanging end; the soundbox is 39 mm high. The lamellae range in length from 105 to 160 mm, and are 4 mm wide at their broad ends; the backrest is 160 mm long, 15.7 mm wide and 12 mm high; the bar is 152 mm long and 1.5 mm thick, and the bridge is 141 mm long, 10 mm high and 1.5 mm thick. The triangular sound hole measures 20 by 27 mm; the circular sound hole at the front of the box has a diameter of 14 mm, and that in the underside has a diameter of 17 mm. The suspension loop is 170 mm long, and 7 mm wide.

Purchased by Jill Goudie at Loryok for £1 sometime between 20th and 25th March 1979, for the British Institute in Eastern Africa's Expedition to the Southern Sudan, directed by Patti Langton. The instrument was said to have been made at Loryok, and was played while walking
"to make time go fast." The Acholi use a similar instrument; see R. Boccassino, "Contributo allo studio dell'ergologia delle popolazioni nilotiche e nilo-camitiche, Parte V", Annali Lateranensi XXX, fig. 7 and p. 293.

Rachael Sparks 19/9/2005.

Primary Documentation:
Accession Book Entry - [p. 185] 1979.20 (.1 - 206) P[urchase] MISS PATTI LANGTON, DEPT. of ETHNOLOGY & PREHISTORY, OXFORD. Collection made by Patti Langton during the British Institute in East Africa's expedition to the Southern Sudan; Jan. - April 1979. The collection was made in three culture areas during the dry season. The amount paid for each object is listed if the information is known. In Jan. 1979 £1 is equivalent to 95 piastres (pt.) Sudanese. This documentation is based largely upon Patti's own list of objects and her notes on these. Sometimes objects included in the Pitt Rivers alotment of the collection do not appear on her list and have been added here. See Related Documents file as well. [p. 204] 1979.20.136 - 193 SOUTHERN SUDAN the LARIM The Larim live about 50 miles west of Kapoeta in the eastern corner of S. Sudan. They are a non-Nilotic pastoral people, living in permanent mountain villages. They are part of the Didinga-Longarim-Murle language group. They live in the Boya Hills - Boya is the Topasa (neighbouring group) name for the Larim, which is also used by the Administration. Longarim is the Didinga's name for them but they call themselves the Larim, and that is used here. [p. 205] The LARIM The collection was made in two parts. The "PL" labelled material was collected during Pat Langton's stay in a village in the Northern Larim area. The "∆" labelled material was collected by Jill Goudie, one of the archaeologists on the Expedition, from the base camp LARYOK, among the Southern Larim. Money is known among the Larim but it is used only for buying beads for women from Kapoeta, or for the few members of the group who would go to Juba. The women especially were more interested in exchange gifts of salt, cloth & soap. The Larim material is documented in three parts: a) General Larim pieces - no information as to which section of the Larim it comes from b) the "PL" Collection from the Northern Larim, from three of the eight Northern Larim clans c) the Southern Larim material collected by Jill Goudie, numbered "∆". [p. 210] 1979.20.163 - 193 SOUTHERN LARIM: Collected by Jill Goudie between 20.3 and 25.3.79 [p. 213] 1979.20.188 "Thumb piano" made in Loryok. Rectangular hollow wooden base with eight iron keys, some with tin rattles attached. Played while walking, "to make time go fast." L = 26.8 cm.; W. at base = 16.2 cm. Coll. no. ∆38; cost £1.
Additional Accession Book Entry [below accession number in red biro] - A5-F36-18.

Card Catalogue Entry - There is no further information on the tribes catalogue card [RTS 26/5/2004].

?Card Catalogue Entry - AFRICA Backrest a chunky piece of wood. Bridge a C-shaped iron plate which bends back up to the backrest and is secured under the bar. Bar of iron which is fastened by wire at 6 places on the right and 6 places on the left. The eight tongues are organised in two groups of four, 2 of these on the left hand side and three of those on the right have iron rattles on them. There is a triangular sound hole on the front right hand side and a round sound hole on the right hand side of the back [?HLR].

Pre-PRM label - 38 [in triangle] [red ink on piece of masking tape, originally stuck to surface of object but removed and put into RDF]; AFRICA, Sudan, Loryok. Southern Larim. Lamellaphone. Coll. by Jill Goudie 38 [in triangle], P. Langton Coll. 1979.20.188 [plastic coated label, tied to object; RTS 12/9/2005].

Written on object - S. SUDAN, S. LARIM. P. Langton Coll 38 [in triangle], 1979.20.188 [RTS 1/9/2005].

Related Documents File - 1979.20 contains a typed packing list, which has been annotated; a typed list of objects arranged by Langton collection numbers and with pencil and biro annotations, and a handwritten list of objects by museum number, essentially repeating this information and annotated with PRM photo numbers in red. This handwritten list seems to be the direct source for the accession book entry. This item appears in Langton's list under the heading 'Southern Larim. These were all collected between 20.3.79 and 25.3.79' [RTS 12/1/2004].

Funded by Arts and Humanities Research Council
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