Plate 1: Amulets in Kordofan

These kitabs, hijabs and waraqas were collected in Kordofan by R.G. Anderson early 1900. Nevertheless, they represent those used all over Muslim Sudan. Plate includes:

1.      Charms against the evil eye and evil spirits compiled by a Mahdi physician and presented to Dr. R.G. Anderson by the physician’s son. The square case contains the paper hujab, the rounded sack contains a preparation of roots of unknown composition. The charm is designed to wear around the arm above the elbow.

2.      Charm for desires to be fulfilled, designed to wear around the arm above the elbow.

3.      Charm against the sting of scorpions, designed to wear around the arm above the elbow.

4.      Three written charms designed to cause impotence in others. One is buried in a neighbourhring grave; the other two being secretly laid below the subject’s bed, designed to wear round the arm above the elbow.

5.      Charm against headache.

6.      Charm against toothache.

7.      Charm against headache.

8.      A love amulet. Four charms, two worn on level with the breasts; two on a level with the hips. Designed for suspension round the neck.

9.      “3 Papers”. A love charm, designed for suspnsion round the neck.

10.  Charm against the evil eye. One case contains the paper, the second unidentified herbs, designed for suspension around the neck.

11.  Charm against reptiles. One leather case containing kasiraswil root (unidentified binomial). The other containing a circular disc of waral skin (the iguana lizard). Used as a prevention and cures against the attack of reptiles. In cases of snake bite, the wound is ‘freshened’ by being briskly rubbed with the lizard skin, and then cauterised with the charred end of the root. Designed for suspension round the neck.

12.  Stones from the grave of a Holy man for protection from illness and evil, and to bring good luck.

13.  Charm against snake bite. One written, the other an unidentified root, designed to be worn round the neck.

14.  Two written charms for love, designed to be worn round the neck.

15.  A false charm, made for a woman, very bulky and containing only wooden blocks instead of genuine charms.

Plate 2: Charms in Kordofan

Items collected by R.G. Anderson:

1.      Al-Barad (hail). An opague white stone worn round the wrist in order to protect the wearer’s horse from horse sickness. It is supposed to fall with the hail, hence the name.

2.      Hajar Al-Damm (blood stone), mounted as a ring.

3.      Hajar Al-Damm, used as a neck ornament. It is placed in water as a specific cure for sunstroke and headache. In epistaxic one of these stones is tied round the forehead to check the bleeding.

4.      Al-Hajar Al-Akhdar (green stone) mounted as a ring.

5.      Al-Hajar Al-Akhdar (green stone), roughly cut as a neck ornament. The stone is placed in boiling water which when cool is administered locally and internally in cases of sunstroke and headache. The stone also acts as a styptic when locally applied.

6.      Al-Ferous (turquoise). Worn set in a ring. Placed in hot water, which is then drunk to relieve vesical retention. Looked at the first thing in the morning it brings good luck for the rest of the day.

7.      Kadug. Horn fitted with an unidentified root for protection against wounds.

8.      A spurious written charm.

9.      Al-Hafidha (protector). A silver charm suspended round the necks of children to protect them against the evil eye and illness arising therefrom. The inscription runs as follows: “Protector! Protect our little Ali from evil”.

10.  Horse charms, to protect horse and rider from illness and bad luck on the road.

11.  Abu Abyad, to protect children against the ill effects of the evil eye.

12.  Goza, to protect children against the ill effects of the evil eye.

Plate 3: Nyam Nyam and Gour charms (1)

Items collected by R.G. Anderson:

1.      Ivory armlet worn by the males as a sign of sex superiority, to attract and engender love, and to maintain the strength of the body. They are never under any circumstances removed, and often bite into the muscle of the limb to a terrible degree.

2.      Gour tooth necklace to protect and prolong life and to render the wearer fecund.

3.      Gour leather waist girdle decorated with a nut and iron bells to prevent skin diseases. Necklets of hippopotamus hide are worn for the same purpose.

4.      Gour tortoise-shell on a brass ring. A charm to procure good luck in fishing and in love.

1.      Gour man’s brass ear-rings as love charms.

5.      Gour scented wood necklace--a charm for love.

2.      7, 10, and 13. Three Gour bracelets worn by men and women, defensive and cosmetic in character. These also bear the same relation to bodily strength and fitness which most such tribal ornamentations seem to do.

3.      Three Nyam Nyam brass finger rings of native make.

4.      and 12 Kederu woman’s ‘defensive’ anklet and bracelet-knives often, and spears sometimes, are carried by many women of the Bahr Al Ghazal tribes.

5.      Two iron necklets worn by Kederu women. These, with many other metal ornaments of traibal Central Africa, are used not only for cosmetic effect but as a sign of wealth and for self defence. One has seen severe septic wounds inflicted by such ornaments.

6.      14 Waarna -- lizard skin used for the prevention and cure of snake-bite and for skin diseases.

Plate 4: Nyam Nyam and Gour charms (2)

Items were collected by R.G. Anderson:

1.      Salt and drug horn.

2.      & 3. Gour whistles used to attract game and drive off evil spirits. In the whistle is kept a greasy feather for cosmetic use.

4.      Oracle of divining board of the Nyam Nyam tribe. Employed by their witchdoctors. Tribal questions, questions of life and death, guilt and innocence, diagnosis of health and disease, etc., are settled by this oracle. The surfaces of the plates having been copiously wetted with saliva and the juice of a certain berry, divination is accomplished by the doctor striking the handle on the smaller plate sharply with each question put, the lower part being held firm. If it moves readily over the body plate, “yes” is signified; when it sticks, “no.” Propitious dates, numbers, etc., are told in like manner—the date or nmber at which the plates cohere being the one selected.

5.      Nyam Nyam witchdoctor’s knife used for bood-letting, etc.

6.      Giraffe hairs used as sutures.

7.      & 8. Nyam Nyam stringed musical instruments used as a pastime and also in devil-dancing and divination, minus the gourd sounding board.

8.      Nyam Nyam witchdoctor’s switch, which seems to be a badge of office.

Plate 5: Kederu women amulets blending with ornaments

Plate 6: Nyam Nyam doctors’ fee, poisoned arrows, etc.

1.      2, 3, 4. The doctors’ fee. Disc and arrow-shaped iron money. The most primitive ‘coinage’ perhaps existant. Iron is the only metal of the country and in it lies the value of exchange. A little brass and copper are imported but knowledge of the rare metals is absoulutely nil, silver and gold having no value over copper, brass and iron; ordinary coins possess no value except as ornaments.

5.      Tobacco pipe in which the coarse home-grown tobacco, originally introduced by Arab traders, is smoked. Hashish, and Indian hemp, probably introduced in the same way, is grown and smoked by the Nyam Nyam tribe of southern Bahr Al-Ghazal.

6.      7, 8. Three knives, two small ones worn by women and a larger one by men. Used for all purposes, including rough attempts at surgery, circumcision (which is occasionally practised), and mutlation – removal of hands, ears, eyes, and genitalia.

9.      Posioned arrows. Ellie on extreme right arrow shows adhering poison.

Plate 7: Surgical Instruments of Kordofan

Instruments collected by in Kordofan by R.G. Anderson early 1900:

1, 2, 3, 5. Al-Samandia

4, 7. Al-Murwad

6. Al-Risha

8. Al-Mikhray

9. Al-Ishfa

10, 11. Thorns for scarification purposes.

12. Al-Kamaia

13. Al-Lazim

14. Al-Fas

15. Al-Saleeha

Plate 8: Surgical instruments, charms, etc., from Dinka, Shulluk, and Burun.

Ethnographical specimens collected by Dr. MacTier Pirrie in: Vallance, DJ. Notes on the ethnographical specimens collected by Fr. A. MacTier Pirrie. Wellcome Research Laboratories Reports; 1908, page 276:

1.      &  2. Burun iron instruments with wood handle, used for extracting lower front teeth; length, nine inches and nine-and-three quarter inches respectively.

3.      Shulluk grass cutter; iron, c urved and serrated blade, handle bound with twine; length, nine inches.

4.      Dinka of Upper Nile Province cupping instrument; cowhorn; length, five inches.

5.      Tooth of Warhog, worn round the neck. (Hameg tribe near Keili, Burun tribe anklets worn by a married woman, but discarded after birth of first child.

6.      Burun necklace with horn-tips filled with fat, and a root (a charm to attract women), also a whistle; the seeds are a charm against lions.

7.      Burun necklace, with root suspended; a medicine for dyspepsia. A little of the root is chewed.

Plate 9: Arrows, spears, etc. from Shulluk, Nuer, Dinka, and Burun.

Plate 10: Extraction and mutilation of teeth among some southern tribes

Plate made by R.G. Anderson (1908):

1.      Extraction of lower and pointing of upper incisors among Nyam Nyam tribe.

2.      &, 3, 4. Sharpening and pointing of incisors and two lower canines. Various designs in used by the Zandeh Nyam Nyam.

5.      &, 6,7. Sharpening and notching of central upper incisors by the Avungara (Royal House).

8.      &, 8a, 9. Removal of all or only the central lower incisors, with alterations in direction of the unopposed teeth. (Gebelawi Nayam Nyam, Makrakka, Bagaro and Gour).

10.  Extraction of four lower, with seperation of upper central incisors. (Bkka)

11.  Extraction of four lower incisors and two lower canines. (Gour).

12.  Extraction of four lower and two upper incisors. (Gour)




Figure 1: Nuba pattens worn as protective against guinea worm infestation

Figure 2: Abbashar Abu Bashariya shrine from inside, Berber Futuar, April 1983.

Figure 3: Abbashar Abu-Bashariya shrine from outside, Berber Futuar, April 1983.

Figure 4: Shrine of Bashariya, daughter of Abbashar Abu Bashariya, in Berber Futuar

Figure 5: Al-Hussain Wad Ahmad shrine, Damar Al-Hasaya, April 1983.

Figure 6: Al-Shaikh Al-Badri shrine in Damar Al-Hasaya, with worshipers around, April 1983

Figure 7: The Magical square

Figure 8: Male circumcision using al-lazim

Figure 9: Euwa divining board

Figure 10: Arabic alphabet lists

Figure 11: Chain Maker in Berber, in interview with Tayib Muhammad Al-Tayib, April 1983.

Figure 12: A mentally ill inmate in chains in maseed Wad Al-Faki Ali, Berber Al-Halfa, April 1983.

Figure 13: Love charm showing the construction of a khatim (seal).

Figure 14: Kau athlete with amulets and beads necklaces, earring and tribal ash and lime face designs.

Figure 15: Kau girl with plenty of protective amulets and bead necklaces worn round the neck and below the breast, rings and pins and characteristic hair-plaiting

Figure 16: The tying cure

Figure 17: Al-Sakkin (arm knife): a surgical kit carrying in its sheath needles, murwad, munqash, samandia, and masalla, together with charms (written and herbal) attached to the sheath. Usually worn at the bend of the left elbow by the right-handed.

Figure 18: Khalwa pupils washing Quran plates in maseed Wad Al-Faki Ali in Berber Al-Halfa.

Figure 19: Khalwa, Quranic school, of Wad Al-Faki Ali, Berber Al-Halfa.

Figure 20: Splints applied to forearm.

Figure 21: Nuba ear and lip perforation.

Figure 22: Extraction and mutilation of teeth among the Nyam Nyam.

Figure 23: Kau women body markings (cicatrisation).

Figure 24: Kau women body markings on abdominal wall and plenty of necklaces of different beads, sacks of herbs and amulets.

Figure 25: Youth, eastern Gajok with forehead and shoulder markings

Figure 26: Cupping the napes using a cupping horn

Figure 27: Basir Muhammad Wad Abd Al-Baqi applying cautery needle, Dammar, April 1983.

Figure 28: Basir Muhammad Wad Abd Al-Baqi cauterizing the head, April 1983.

Figure 29: A historical rakwa (Ablution jar) and maqlouba (prayer mat) in Wad Al-Faki Ali shrine, Berber Al-Halfa, April 198

3.Figure 30: Muzaiyna (hair cutter) in Abbashar Abu-Bashariya shrine in Berber Futuar, April 1983

Figure 31: Al-Shaikh Muhammad Al-Hasan Al-Faki Ali, a healer in Berber Al-Halfa in interview with Tayib Muhammad Al-Tayib, April 1983.

Figure 32: Herbalist Muhammad Ahmad Al-Ansari of Berber Al-Ibaidiya, Qamshab village.

Figure 33: Faki Muhammad Wad Abd Al-Baqi, Dammar, in inter with Tayib Muhammad Al-Tayib, April 1983.

Figure 34: A village midwife of Berber Al-Joul, April 1983.

Figure 35: Kok: Doctor of powers, Mandari.

Figure 36: Zeinab bit Bati, bone setter, Omdurman, 1985.

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