Moru Misa flute

Moru Misa flute
Other views of this artifact:

Accession Number:
[Southern Sudan] Western Equatoria Lanyi
Cultural Group:
Moru Misa
Date Made:
By 1979
Antelope Horn Animal , Animal Horn , ?Wax
Carved , Hollowed , Perforated
L = 235, embouchure = 40 x 32, internal opening = 22 x 28, finger-hole diam = 5 mm [RTS 7/9/2005].
59.2 g
Local Name:
Other Owners:
Purchased by Patti Langton for either 10 or 15 piastres on 5th February 1979 as part of the British Institute in Eastern Africa's Expedition to the Southern Sudan [RTS 14/5/2004].
Field Collector:
Patti Langton
PRM Source:
Patti Langton
Purchased 1979
Collected Date:
5 February 1979
Notched end-blown flute carved from the tip of an antelope horn; this is a translucent creamy brown colour at the top (Pantone 7501C), gradually darkening and becoming more opaque towards the distal end (Pantone Black 7C). The embouchure has been cut to form concave front and back edges, rising to either side where lumps of a reddish brown wax have been added to the interior to narrow the embouchure and guide the breath (Pantone 476C). The opening is almost triangular in plan view. The body is twisted below, following the natural curvature of the horn, with slight surface ribbing on the upper part, then tapering to a smooth point at the distal end. 3 finger-holes have been cut into one side, near the tip; the lowest hole has been bored into the surface at an angle. The object is complete, but has some surface damage, particularly around the upper body. It has a weight of 59.2 grams, and is 235 mm long. The embouchure measures 40 by 32 mm across its outside edges, and 22 by 28 mm across the internal opening, and the finger-holes have a diameter of 5 mm.

Purchased by Patti Langton at Lanyi for either 10 or 15 piastres on 5th February 1979 as part of the British Institute in Eastern Africa's Expedition to the Southern Sudan.

This flute is known as a
toroba, and was used to call people together for a hunt, to announce a successful shot, or to keep in contact with other hunters when working together in thick bush. This type of flute always has three finger-holes. There is no age limit to who can use the toroba, and even those who have killed no animals may use it. Manufacturing this type of instrument is not a specialist profession. For another example , see 1979.20.1, which is considerably smaller but otherwise of similar design.

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 alottment of the collection do not appear on her list and have been added here. See Related Documents file as well. [pp 185 - 186] 1979.20.1 - 42 SOUTHERN SUDAN the MORU MISA The Moru Misa live about 100 miles west of Juba, the capital of the Southern Sudan. Part of the collection was made in Lui, a small town which has had extensive church and missionary activity over the past 50 years (excluding the period of civil war) and which now boasts a church, a hospital and a number of schools. The rest of the Moru Misa collection was made at Lanyi, 15 miles away, where the paramount chief of the area, Chief Elinama, arranged for people to bring artifacts for us to buy. Although money is known to the Moru, its use is limited and the concept of selling belongings is foreign to them. Hence the low prices and the relatively small number of artefacts. The Moru Misa are a geographical section of the Moru people. The Moru practice agriculture for subsistence; they do not keep cattle any longer. [p. 189] 1979.20.23 - Hunting whistle, toroba . Similar to 1979.20.1. ?Antelope horn. L = ca. 23.2 cm.; Coll. in Lanyi 5.2.79; 10 or 15 pt. Coll. no 70.
Additional Accession Book Entry [in red biro under accession number] - A5-F32-5.

Card Catalogue Entry - There is no further information on the tribes catalogue card [RTS 2/6/2004].

Pitt Rivers Museum label - SOUTERN SUDAN, MORU MISA tribal area. Hunting whistle. Pat Langton Coll., no. 70. 1979.20.23 [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 (this gives the purchase price as '15 pt', which is annotated in pen 'label says 10'), 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 [RTS 12/1/2004].

Funded by Arts and Humanities Research Council
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