Bow harp

Bow harp
Other views of this artifact:

Accession Number:
1985.24.2 .1 .2
[Southern Sudan] ?Bahr el Jebel ?Western Equatoria Yei River District Panyume
Made by a student and his brothers.
Date Made:
Wood Plant , Goat Skin Animal , Nylon Synthetic
Carved , Perforated , Stretched , Covered , Twisted Strung , Tied
[.1] Diagonal L from top of neck to end of soundbox = 670; tuning peg head diam = 15.5 x 11.5, L = 12, base diam = 6; soundbox L = 225, W = 128, Ht = 67; sound hole diam = 35, string hole diam = 4, string diam = 0.7 mm; [.2] Peg L = 3.3, upper body W = 9.
646.2 g; weight of loose peg [.2] 1.4 g
Local Name:
Field Collector:
Lutaya Expedition
PRM Source:
Lutaya Expedition via B.E. Harrell-Bond
Purchased 1985
Collected Date:
July to September 1984
1985.24.2.1 is a bow harp consisting of a curved neck carved from a yellowish branch (Pantone 7508C), stripped of its surface bark, with bevelled upper end and a round sectioned shaft. The lower end has been fitted into the side of a wooden soundbox. The neck has been perforated with a row of 9 holes, burnt through the wood and blackened on their interiors. Faint impressed lines run around the back of each hole, possibly a side-effect of the manufacturing process, a guide to marking out the holes, or for the position of the string. They have been fitted with solid wooden tuning pegs in a similar type of wood. These have been roughly shaped with bevelled cut ends, and narrow bodies that vary from oval to rectangular in section; the lower parts have been shaved to form tapering butts. The second peg fits poorly, and is very loose in its hole.

The harp body has been carved from the same coloured wood, and consists of a narrow flat-topped rim, on upright sides and a flat base. It has an almost triangular plan view, arched at one end and flat at the other. A piece of goat's skin covered in dark brown hair has been stretched tightly over the mouth of this bowl (Pantone 440C); the edges have been perforated, and lashed to a second piece of skin that covers the base of the soundbox, using strips of hide, with the ties running in a line around the centre of the sides. This lower piece is covered with pale cream hair, with a few dark patches. There is a single, large, circular sound hole cut near the centre of the sound table, and a row of 9 string holes running down the middle. The string carrier is clearly visible, carved from yellow wood with a pointed top, narrow body and rectangular section (Pantone 7508C). This extends from beyond the arched end of the sound box, passing through a hole cut into the skin sound table, and then running beneath the line of string holes, where it is used to secure the strings. These have been made from lengths of a pale cream coloured nylon (Pantone 7401C), and have been knotted around the body of each tuning peg, then wound several times around the shaft in a clockwise direction (except for the second peg, which has been wound anticlockwise), before stretching down through the string holes and string carrier, to be tied around short pieces of wood on the other side.

The harp is complete, and was made new for the expedition. It is loosely strung, and the neck has only a loose fit through into the sound box, allowing the latter to rotate. Some of the goat's hair has worn off the surface of the skin, particularly on the edges; this cannot be through use, so must have occurred during manufacture. There is also a natural flaw running down the length of the wood. It has a weight of 646.2 grams. It measures 670 mm from the top of the neck to the end of the soundbox; the neck has a diameter of 25 mm; a typical tuning peg has a head diameter of 15.5 by 11.5 mm, is 12 mm long, and has a base diameter of 6 mm. The soundbox is 225 mm long, with a maximum width of 128 mm, and is 67 mm high; the sound hole has a diameter of 35 mm, the string holes have a diameter of 4 mm and the string has a diameter of 0.7 mm

A small, separate peg was found loose inside the soundbox, and has been numbered 1985.24.2.2. This has the basic shape of a tuning peg, but is considerably smaller than those used on this instrument; its purpose is unknown and indeed, it may not have been intended for use with this particular harp. It has a paddle-shaped body with rectangular upper body and a more curved, tapered lower body, and has been carved from a soft yellow wood (Pantone 7508C). It is complete, and measures 83.3 mm in length, with the upper body being 9.5 mm wide and 5 mm thick, and the lower body being 5.8 mm wide and 4 mm thick. By itself, the peg has a weight of 1.4 grams.

Collected by
the Lutaya Expedition between July and September 1984 at the Panyme Refugee Settlement, which is located in the Yei River District, near the Ugandan border.; this was a seven-member research and support expedition from the Third World Society of Oxford University, to settlements for Ugandan refugees from West Nile Province, Uganda. This example was made specially from the expedition by a student and his brothers, along with 1985.24.1 and 3-4; the hide and wood were soaked in a river for around four days. The craftsmen walked about 40 miles with these instruments to sell them to the group. These would be played as a band together with a large bass, and other more improvised instruments such as plastic bowls for drums and two tin lids mounted on a stand as cymbals.

This type of harp is known as
adungu. The collector did not specify the cultural group who made or would use this object, but adungu is an term used by the Acholi - see harps 1994.60.1-2 and 1998.9.1 for other examples of the type. For other adungu collected by the Lutaya Expedition, see 1985.24.1 and 1985.24.5 (with different shaped resonator bowls).

Rachael Sparks 29/9/2005.

Primary Documentation:
Accession Book Entry [p. 68] - 1985.24 (.1 - 14) P[urchase] LUTAYA EXPEDITION, c/o B. E. HARRELL-BOND, ... OXFORD. A collection of items made by the Lutaya Expedition to YEI RIVER DISTRICT, EQUATORIA, SUDAN, 1984. This was a seven-member research and support expedition from the Third World Society of Oxford University, to settlements for Ugandan refugees from West Nile Province, Uganda. See Related Documents File for notes and field photographs. [1985.24] .1 - 4 SUDAN - EQUATORIA - YEI RIVER DISTRICT - PANYUME REFUGEE SETTLEMENT [1 of a] Set of 4 stringed musical instruments, adungu , in different sizes. The necks and bodies are made of wood, the bodies [p. 69] being covered in goatskin; the strings are nylon. Made especially for the vendors. The skin and wood were soaked in a river for 4 days prior to manufacture. The adungus would be played as a band together with a large bass and other improvised instruments such as plastic bowls for drums and 2 tin lids mounted on a stand for cymbals. See RDF for photographs. [1985.24] .2: total L = 650 mm; L body = 225 mm; max W = 125 mm; D = 65 mm.
Additional accession book entry [p. 68, under accession number, in red biro] - A11-F16-1, 2, 9, 10.

Card Catalogue Entry - There is no further information on the tribes catalogue card [RTS 28/1/2004].

Pitt Rivers Museum label
- SUDAN, EQUATORIA, YEI RIVER DISTRICT. PANYUME REFUGEE SETTLEMENT. Stringed instrument, adungu . Purch. Lutaya Expedition 1985.24.2 [plastic label with metal eyelet, tied to object; RTS 22/9/2005].

Related Documents File - 1985.24, a typed document headed 'Lutaya Expedition to Yei River District, Equatoria, Sudan July-September 1984. Subheading: 'Third world First Society, Oxford University. A seven-member research and support expedition to settlements for Ugandan refugees from West Nile Province, Uganda'. A list follows, describing the objects collected; this appears as part of item 1: 'One set of string musical instruments ( ADUNGU ) in four different sizes. From the 'self-settled' refugee area of Panyume (Yei River District, near Ugandan border). Made from wood, goat skin and nylon thread, the skin and wood having been soaked in a river for about 4 days. These would be played as a band together with a large bass, and other more improvised instruments such as plastic bowls for drums and 2 tin lids mounted on a stand as cymbals. These particular ADUNGUS were specially made for us by one student and his brothers who all walked about 40 miles with them to sell them to us' [RTS 6/1/2004].
See RDF for notes and two black and white photographic prints, ta en at Limbe Settlement showing a man and a boy playing the
Adungu [?HLR].

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