Southern Larim flute

Southern Larim flute
Other views of this artifact:

Accession Number:
[Southern Sudan] Eastern Equatoria Loryok
Cultural Group:
Southern Larim
Date Made:
By March 1979
Gourd Plant , Grass Fibre Plant , Resin Plant? , Wax ? , Pigment
Hollowed Dried , Perforated , Notched , Decorated , Incised Inlaid , Twisted Tied
L = 102; embouchure = 34 x 33 (ext.), 18 x 26 (int.); finger-hole diam = 6; suspension hole diam = 2; small loop L = 13, suspension loop L = 450, W = 1 - 2 mm [RTS 5/9/2005].
13.6 g
Local Name:
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
Small notched end-blown flute cut from the top part of a gourd that has been hollowed out and dried. This consists of of an oval embouchure, 'notched' or cut to form concave front and back edges, with traces of a dark brown resinous or waxy substance that has been added to narrow the embouchure and guide the breath. Below this, the body follows the natural curve of the plant, with a cylindrical body and rounded distal end that has a circular finger-hole at its centre. There is an additional finger-hole cut into the upper part of one side . A pair of smaller holes have been bored into the wall just below the lip of the instrument, and used to attach a small loop made of several strands of twisted grass fibre; this is obscured on the interior by the waxy material, which must have been added afterwards. This loop is used to secure a much longer suspension or carrying loop made of twisted 2-ply yellow grass fibre (Pantone 7508C), that varies in thickness along its length. The surface of the gourd is a reddish brown colour (Pantone 725C), and has been covered with finely incised lines and dots, filled with black pigment. Immediately below the embouchure is a horizontal line with a row of pendant dot-filled triangles below; this does not extend fully around the circumference, stopping on either side of the finger-hole, and the two ends of this band are not in alignment with one another. The pattern then breaks up into a more random design made of double rows of dots, that meander vertically down the sides, with some oblique rows dividing the surface up into a series of geometric spaces. Most are left empty, except for the face opposite the finger-hole, where one has been filled with a pair of crosshatched triangles meeting at their points, and another below this has been filled with an angular 'B', or vertical column of 2 triangles linked at the base. This last motif has not been coloured with black. The object is complete, but there are 2 burnt patches on one side, and the suspension cord has some frayed areas. It has a weight of 13.6 grams and is 102 mm long, with an embouchure measuring 34 by 33 mm across its outside edges, and 18 by 26 mm across the inside opening; the finger-holes have a diameter of 6 mm; the suspension holes have a diameter of 2 mm; the small loop is 13 mm long, and the suspension loop 450 mm in length, with a width that ranges from 1 to 2 mm.

Purchased by Jill Goudie at Loryok for £1 sometime between 20th and 25th March 1979, as part of the the British Institute in Eastern Africa's Expedition to the Southern Sudan, directed by Patti Langton.

This type of flute is called a
pelo, and is used by both men and boys, who play it by alternating their fingers on the upper hole, while keeping the distal end always covered. For a similar flute cut from the end of a gourd, see 1934.8.97, a Lango example with 2 finger-holes down the side and one at the distal end. Gourd tops are also used for flutes by the Labwor and Madi of Uganda, both being of similar length to this example, and also by the Acholi (M. Trowell & K.P. Wachsmann, Tribal Crafts of Uganda, 1953, pp 343-344).

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 alootment 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. 214] 1979.20.193 Hunting whistle, pelo , made from a gourd. No special design. Used by men and boys. Played by alternating the fingers on the upper hole, while the hole at the base is always covered. L = ca. 10 cm. Coll. no. ∆48; cost £1.
Additional Accession Book Entry [below accession number in red biro] - A5-F36-24.

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

Pitt Rivers Museum label - S. SUDAN. SOUTHERN LARIM. Gourd hunting whistle. P. Langton Coll. 48 [in triangle] 1979.20.193 [plastic label with metal eyelet, tied to object; 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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