Bow harp

Bow harp

Accession Number:
1985.24.5 .1 .2
Sudan , ?Uganda
[Southern Sudan] Bahr el Jebel near Yei Alero
Date Made:
By 1984
Wood Plant , Iron Metal , Nylon Synthetic , Animal Hide Skin , Goat Skin Animal?
Carved , Perforated , Stretched Covered , Twisted Strung , Tied Recycled Bent , Incised Written
Diagonal L from top of neck to end of soundbox = 875; neck total L = 716, diam = 30 x 27.4; peg hole diam = 7; tuning peg diam = 4.2, L = 67; soundbox L = 346, W = 120, Ht = 107; large sound hole diam = 36, small sound holes and string holes diam = 4, str
> 1000 g
Local Name:
Field Collector:
Lutaya Expedition
PRM Source:
Lutaya Expedition via B.E. Harrell-Bond
Purchased 1985
Collected Date:
July to September 1984
Bow harp consisting of a curved neck carved from a yellowish branch (Pantone 7510C), stripped of its surface bark, with bevelled upper end and a round sectioned shaft. The lower end tapers and has been fitted into the side of a wooden soundbox; the fit is a poor one and the neck is able to move from side to side and can be easily detached. The upper part of this neck has been perforated with a row of 9 holes, burnt through the wood and blackened on their interiors. 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. However the third hole from the top was misjudged, despite this, and has a double boring, one side of which has been plugged up with a piece of wood. The tuning pegs have been made from recycled iron rods, round in section, with one end bent over to form a hook. They are said to be made from reused nails, and fit very loosely in the peg holes; at present, none are in place.

The harp body carved from the same type of wood, and consists of a narrow flat-topped rim, on upright sides and a flat base, with a large hole just above the base at the front, curved end, which receives the neck. It has a rectangular plan view. A piece of yellow hide with traces of buff hair on the surface has been stretched tightly over the mouth of this bowl (Pantone 7508C) and down over its sides, forming the sound table. A second piece of hide has been used to cover the base. Both piece have been perforated around their edges, and stitched together using narrow hide strips, knotted in places. There is a large, circular sound hole cut near one long edge of the sound table, 2 groups of 3 small sound holes on either side of the string carrier near the front end, and a row of 10 string holes running in a line down the centre, only 9 of which have actually been used. The string carrier is clearly visible, carved from orangey brown wood with a pointed top, narrow rectangular body and flat cut lower end (Pantone 729C). This extends from beyond the front end of the sound box, passes through a hole cut into the skin sound table to run beneath the line of string holes, where it is used to secure the strings, then extending out through a slit in the hide cover on the other side. The strings have been made from lengths of a pale cream coloured twisted nylon (Pantone 7401C). At the upper end, each string has been tied onto the upper body of its tuning peg, while the other end passes through the string hole, through the pierced body of the string carrier, and then is knotted onto a short wooden twig that holds it securely in place on the other side. The strings have cut into the top of each string hole, giving them a keyhole shape. Some of these strings have knots along their length. There appears to be a few letters scratched into the surface of the sound table, near the central string holes, possibly reading 'IKUF'. The meaning of this is not known.

The harp is complete and in good condition. It has a weight in excess of 1000 grams. It measures 875 mm from the top of the neck to the end of the soundbox; the neck piece is 716 mm long (including the area normally obscured by the body of the soundbox), and has a diameter of 30 by 27.4 mm; the peg holes have a diameter of 7 mm; a typical tuning peg has a diameter of 4.2 mm and is 67 mm long. The soundbox is 346 mm long, with a maximum width of 120 mm, and is 107 mm high; the large sound hole has a diameter of 36 mm, the smaller sound holes and string holes have diameters of 4 mm and the strings have a diameter of 1 mm.

Collected by
the Lutaya Expedition at the Alero Refugee Settlement, 7 miles from the town of Yei, between July and September 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.

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. A series of such harps were collected by the Lutaya Expedition; see also 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. [p. 69, 1985.24].5 SUDAN - EQUATORIA - nr. YEI - ALERO REFUGEE SETTLEMENT. Stringed musical instrument, adungu , c.f. 1985.24.1 - 4. Bent nails have been used as pegs. The songs adungus accompany range from hymns to love songs and lively dance music. [p. 70] Total L = 850 mm; L body = 350 mm; max W = 120 mm; D = 105 mm.
Additional accession book entry [p. 69, under accession number, in red biro] - A11.F16.8.

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

Pitt Rivers Museum label
- SUDAN, EQUATORIA, nr. YEI. ALERO REFUGEE SETTLEMENT. Stringed musical instrument, adungu . Purch. Lutaya Expedition 1985.24.5 [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 item 2: 'One larger ADUNGU , provenance Alero refugee settlement. (7 miles from Yei town). Nails used as pegs. The songs which ADUNGUS accompany range from hymns to love songs and lively dance music' [RTS 6/1/2004].
See RDF for notes and two black and white photographic prints, taken at Limbe Settlement showing a man and a boy playing the Adungu [?HLR].

Funded by Arts and Humanities Research Council
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