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eld Museum 1 


Natural History 



Field Museum of Natural History 

Founded by Marshall Field, 1893 

Publication 346 

Anthropological Series 

Vol. XXI, No. 3 



Wilfrid D. Hambly 


Frederick H. Rawson-Field Museum Ethnological Expedition 
To West Africa, 1929-30 

68 Plates in Photogravure and 1 Map 

Paul S. Martin 


**> HISTORY > 








Scale: 1 inch = 260 miles; arrow indicates route 

Field Museum of Natural History 

Founded by Marshall Field, 1893 

Publication 346 

Anthropological Series 

Vol. XXI, No. 3 



Wilfrid D. Hambly 


Frederick H. Rawson-Field Museum Ethnological Expedition 
To West Africa, 1929-30 

68 Plates in Photogravure and 1 Map 

Paul S. Martin 






List of Illustrations 367 

Preface 373 

Geography 375 

Archaeology 379 

History and Exploration 384 

The Prehistoric Period 384 

History of the Northern Provinces 387 

History of the Southern Provinces 390 

Exploration 392 

IV. Industries 399 

Introduction 399 

Metal Work 403 

Equipment for War and Hunting 409 

Spinning, Weaving, and Dyeing 412 

Basketry 418 

Leather Work 420 

Pottery 423 

Wood-carving, Gourds, and Musical Instruments 426 

Personal Ornaments 432 

V. Tribes and Their Cultures 440 

The Problem 440 

Somatic Characters 442 

Languages 446 

Negro Culture 449 

Foreign Elements in Negro Culture 459 

The Northern Culture 469 

The Plateau Barrier 473 

Geographical and Historical Determinants 478 

Bibliography 482 

Index 496 


Map (facing title-page). Nigeria. 

XCIII. Ornamented Gourds. Fig. 1. Gourd dyed indigo, 
Bida. Cat. No. 209711, 36 x 10 cm. Fig. 2. White 
incised gourd, Ogbomosho. Cat. No. 209725, 

34 x 24 cm. Fig. 3. Black wooden bowl, Potiskum. 
Cat. No. 209504, 26 x 16 cm. Fig. 4. Gourd dyed 
red and scraped to form patterns, Maiduguri. Cat. 
No. 209721, 35x18 cm. Fig. 5. Incised burnt 
patterns on yellow surface, Maiduguri. Cat. No. 
209729, 30 x 16 cm. Fig. 6. Incised burnt patterns 
on yellow surface, Nupe, Bida. Cat. No. 209698, 
28 x 22 cm. 

XCIV. Wood-carving. Fig. 1. Stool, Nupe, Bida. Cat. 
No. 209594, 52 x 31 x 28 cm. Fig. 2. Stool, Munshi, 
Katsina Ala. Cat. No. 209423, 27x24 cm. 
Fig. 3. Adze and knife for carving stools, Bida. 
Cat. Nos. 209667 and 209674, 31x7 and 28x4 
cm., respectively. Fig. 4. Figure of Elebiti, 
Yoruba, Ife. Cat. No. 209590, 42 x 22 cm. Fig. 5. 
Modern wood-carving, Benin. Cat. No. 209656, 
46 x 16 cm. Fig. 6. Doll, Yoruba, Ogbomosho. 
Cat. No. 209469, 24 x 8 cm. Fig. 7. Sandal, 
Buduma woman, Lake Chad. Cat. No. 209491, 
26 x 10 x 5 cm. 

XCV. Writing Tablet and Pottery. Fig. 1. Beer jug, 
Bolewa, Potiskum. Cat. No. 209738, 49 x 30 cm. 
Fig. 2. Water jar, Sokoto. Cat. No. 209298, 

23 x 17 cm. Fig. 3. Beer vessel, Bolewa, Potiskum. 
Cat. No. 209740, 20 x 16 cm. Fig. 4. Ink bottle, 
Kano. Cat. No. 209425, 10 x 8 cm. Fig. 5. 
Wooden board for Koranic texts. Cat. No. 209431, 
36 x 15 cm. Fig. 6. Perforated pot for smoking 
meat and fish, Yoruba, Ilorin. Cat. No. 209318, 

24 x 20 cm. 

XCVI. Pottery, Yoruba. Figs. 1-3, 5-7, Ilorin; Fig. 4, 
Iseyin. Fig. 1. Water cooler. Cat. No. 209293, 

35 x 30 cm. Fig. 2. Water cooler. Cat. No. 
209294, 23 x 21 cm. Fig. 3. Black earthen water 



List op Illustrations 

jar. Cat. No. 209330, 16 x 14 cm. Fig. 4. Oil 
lamps. Cat. Nos. 209340 (left) and 209338 (right), 
19 x 8, and 16 x 8 cm., respectively. Fig. 5. 
Black earthen water jar. Cat. No. 209323, 16 x 15 
cm. Fig. 6. Oil lamp of black pottery. Cat. No. 
209336, 10 x 6 cm. Fig. 7. Food vessel of black 
earthenware. Cat. No. 209326, 15 x 10 cm. 

XCVII. Musical Instruments and Food Vessel. Fig. 1. Con- 
tainer for butter and condiments, Maradi. Cat. 
No. 209121, 71 x 34 cm. Fig. 2 a and b. Stringed 
musical instrument and bow, Maiduguri. Cat. 
No. 209119, 70 x 36 cm. Fig. 3. Musical instru- 
ment with two strings played by plucking with 
fingers, Maiduguri. Cat. No. 209116, 60 x 20 cm. 
Fig. 4. Two-stringed musical instrument called 
garayah, Medowa. Cat. No. 209184, 62 x 16 cm. 
Fig. 5. Pottery drum, Maiduguri. Cat. No. 209125, 
22 x 16 cm. 

XCVIII. Beaten Brass Work, Figs. 1-3, 5-7, Nupe tribe, 
Bida; Fig. 4, Buduma, Lake Chad. Fig. 1. Round 
bowl. Cat. No. 209651, 26 x 11 cm. Fig. 2. Large 
ewer for water. Cat. No. 209565, 33 x 15 cm. 
Fig. 3. Oval brass tray. Cat. No. 209645, 30 x 17 
cm. Fig. 4. Woman's copper anklets. Cat. No. 
209485, 13 x 10 x 7 cm. Fig. 5. Round brass tray. 
Cat. No. 209636, 20 x 20 cm. Fig. 6. Arm dagger 
and brass scabbard. Cat. No. 209550, 57 x 10 cm. 
Fig. 7. Vessel for kola nuts. Cat. No. 209569, 
15 x 13 cm. 

XCIX. Brass-casting. Fig. 1. Clay mold for casting spoon, 
Benin. Cat. No. 209458, 22 x 7 cm. Fig. 2. 
Brass spoon cast in mold (Fig. 1), Benin. Cat. 
No. 209416, 19 x 5 cm. Fig. 3. Candlestick, 
Benin. Cat. No. 209559, 18 x 5 cm. Fig. 4. 
Hairdressing implement, beaten brass, Bida. Cat. 
No. 209552, 20 x 2 cm. Fig. 5. Brass jug, Benin. 
Cat. No. 209561, 11 x 6 cm. Fig. 6. Cockbird, 
Kano. Cat. No. 209555, 11 x 6 cm. Fig. 7. 
Drinking cup, Benin. Cat. No. 209560, 11 x 7 
cm. Fig. 8. Elephant, Kano. Cat. No. 209556, 
9 x 9 cm. Fig. 9. Antelope, Kano. Cat. No. 

List of Illustrations 369 

209558, 17 x 14 cm. Fig. 10. Brass bell, Benin. 
Cat. No. 209562, 14 x 7 cm. 

C. Basketry. Fig. 1. Basket, red and black colors 
inwoven, Buduma. Cat. No. 209510, 25 x 25 cm. 
Fig. 2. Basket covered with cowrie shells, Kano. 
Cat. No. 209156, 24 x 12 cm. Fig. 3. Raffia mat, 
inwoven red and black patterns, Yoruba, Ibadan. 
Cat. No. 209283, 37 x 21 cm. Fig. 4. Platter, 
inwoven red and black designs, Buduma. Cat. 
No. 209238, 30 x 30 cm. Fig. 5. Basket, checkered 
design inwoven in red, blue, yellow, and green, 
Yoruba, Ilorin. Cat. No. 209137, 27 x 18 cm. 
Fig. 6. Raffia mat, red and black designs inwoven, 
Yoruba, Ilorin. Cat. No. 209282, 36 x 21 cm. 

CI. Implements, Paddles, and Weapons. Fig. 1. Wooden 
paddle twirled by Ibo dancer, Onitsha. Cat. No. 
209658, 130 x 11 cm. Fig. 2. Iron scoop for cleaning 
out contents of gourds, Sokoto. Cat. No. 209668, 
75 x 3 cm. Fig. 3. Curved knife for carving gourds, 
Ogbomosho. Cat. No. 209671, 24 x 5 cm. Fig. 4. 
Blacksmith's anvil, Iseyin. Cat. No. 209386, 
19 x 17 cm. Fig. 5. Saw for cutting gourds, Sokoto. 
Cat. No. 209670, 52 x 4 cm. Fig. 6. Harpoon, 
Buduma, Lake Chad. Cat. No. 209535; barbed 
head, 17 x 3 cm. Fig. 7. Barbed spear, Buduma. 
Cat. No. 209496, 34 x 2 cm. Fig. 8. Blacksmith's 
tongs, Iseyin. Cat. No. 209382, 36 x 4 cm. Fig. 9. 
Jekri paddle, Sapele. Cat. No. 209660, 134 x 11 cm. 

CI I. Wooden Masks, Ife. Fig. 1. Fopo, a dead warrior 
of renown. Fig. 2. Jogbo, a famous spear-thrower, 
now dead. 

CIII. Making Pottery, Ogbomosho. Fig. 1. Smoothing 
pots. Fig. 2. Kiln ready for firing. 

CIV. Making Pottery, Ogbomosho. Fig. 1. Polishing pot 
with pebble. Fig. 2. Firing insides of pots. 

CV. Pottery Industry, Kano, Fig. 1. Pounder for beating 
clay. Fig. 2. Stick for molding pots. 

CVI. Pottery Industry, Kano. Fig. 1. Base of pot com- 
pleted. Fig. 2. Baked pots. 


List of Illustrations 

CVII. Spinning and Winding Cotton, Iseyin. Fig. 1. 
Spinning. Fig. 2. Winding. 

CVIII. Winding and Weaving Cotton, Iseyin. Fig. 1. Wind- 
ing. Fig. 2. The weavers' shed. 

CIX. Dyeing Cloth, Iseyin. Fig. 1. Old woman in charge 
of dye pots. Fig. 2. Finished cloth dyed with 

CX. Making Cloth, Kano. Fig. 1. Beating cloth on log. 
Fig. 2. Indigo dye pits in market. 

CXI. Making Cloth. Fig. 1. Male weaver, Kano. Fig. 2. 
Yoruba girls, Ilorin, wearing cloth made by natives. 

CXII. Making Baskets, Kano. Fig. 1. Basket-maker's 
booth. Fig. 2. Making coiled basketry. 

CXI II. Nigerian Occupations. Fig. 1. Ibo men building 
house, Onitsha. Fig. 2. Mat made by Nupe, Bida. 

CXIV. Kano Market. Fig. 1. Oven for roasting skewers of 

meat. Fig. 2. Sword-makers. 
CXV. Views, Benin. Fig. 1. School of handicrafts. Fig. 2. 

Obba under state umbrella. 
CXVI. Nigerian Occupations. Fig. 1. Fishing with weir, 

Maiduguri. Fig. 2. Blind rope-maker, Nupe, Bida. 

CXVII. Nupe Man, Bida. Fig. 1. Front view. Fig. 2. Side 

CXVIII. Physical Types. Fig. 1. Hairdressing of Bini woman, 
Benin. Fig. 2. Sobo man and woman, Sapele. 
CXIX. Physical Types. Fig. 1. Bini man, Benin. Fig. 2. 
Man, Bema tribe, near Gombe. 

CXX. Jekri Man, Sapele. Fig. 1. Front view. Fig. 2. Side 

CXXI. Bini Man, Benin. Fig. 1. Front view. Fig. 2. Side 
CXXII. Egba Man, Abeokuta. Fig. 1. Front view. Fig. 2. 

Side view. 
CXXIII. Two Yoruba Types, Ogbomosho. 
CXX IV. Scarification. Fig. 1. Munshi man, Katsina Ala. 

Fig. 2. Angas man, Pankshin. 
CXXV. Scarified Munshi Women, Katsina Ala. Fig. 1. 
Successful scarification. Fig. 2. Septic scarification. 

List of Illustrations 


CXXVI. Munshi Tribe, Katsina Ala. Fig. 1. Woman display- 
ing arm and leg ornaments. Fig. 2. Typical house. 
CXXVII. Keri-Keri Men, Potiskum. Fig. 1. Front view. 

Fig. 2. Back view. 
CXXVI II. Women, Angas Tribe, Pankshin. Fig. 1. Front view. 
Fig. 2. Back view. 
CXXIX. Plateau Tribes. Fig. 1. Gwozo man, Maiduguri. 

Fig. 2. Angas man and women, near Pankshin. 
CXXX. Musicians, Pankshin. Fig. 1. Two principal dancers. 
Fig. 2. Chief instrumentalists with drum and horns. 
CXXX I. Hausa Woman, Kano. Fig. 1. Head and shoulders. 

Fig. 2. Full-length portrait. 
CXXXII. Male Hausa, Kano. Fig. 1. Front view. Fig. 2. 
Back view. 
CXXXIII. Views, Kano. Fig. 1. Dwarf, Kano market. Fig. 2. 

Hausa man, Kano. 
CXXXIV. Bolewa Woman of Emir's House, Potiskum. Fig. 1. 

Front view. Fig. 2. Side view. 
CXXXV. Fulani Whipping Ceremony, near Shendam. Fig. 1. 

Chiefs. Fig. 2. Girls. 
CXXXVI. Fulani, near Shendam. Fig. 1. Flogging ceremony. 
Fig. 2. Female spectators of ceremony. 

CXXXVIJ. Man, Sara Tribe, Lake Chad. Fig. 1. Front view. 

Fig. 2. Side view. 
CXXXVIII. Tooth Mutilation, near Lake Chad. Fig. 1. Man, 
Banana tribe. Fig. 2. Man, Sara tribe. 
CXXXIX. Shuwa Arab Girl, Maiduguri. Fig. 1. Front view. 
Fig. 2. Side view. 
CXL. Physical Types, near Lake Chad. Fig. 1. Buduma 
man, Baya Seyarum. Fig. 2. Shuwa Arab girl, 
CXLI. Buduma Women, Baya Seyarum, Lake Chad. 
CXLII. Architecture, Kano. Fig. 1. External molding. 

Fig. 2. Molding of ceiling. 
CXLIII. Buduma Tribe, Baya Seyarum, Lake Chad. Fig. 1. 
Papyrus reed canoe. Fig. 2. Fighting behind shields. 
CXLIV. Near Lake Chad. Fig. 1. Buduma traders with 
natron, Baya Seyarum. Fig. 2. Ox of chief, 


List of Illustrations 

CXLV. Transport by Oxen. Fig. 1. In Kano market, Nigeria. 

Fig. 2. At Maradi, French Niger Territory. 
CXLVI. In French Niger Territory. Fig. 1. Buzu, Maradi. 

Fig. 2. Building a house, Tahoua. 
CXLVII. Professional Wrestlers, Tahoua. Fig. 1. The group. 

Fig. 2. The match. 
CXLVIII. Yoruba Hairdressing. Fig. 1. Barber shaving boy's 
head, Ogbomosho. Fig. 2. Woman dressing hair, 
CXLIX. Yoruba Musicians. Fig. 1. Drummers, Ogbomosho. 
Fig. 2. Playing drum and algaita, Ibadan. 
CL. Southwest Nigeria. Fig. 1. Writing Koranic texts, 
Bida, Nupe tribe. Fig. 2. Yoruba blacksmith, 
CLI. Hunting and Personal Ornament. Fig. 1. Munshi 
hunter, Katsina Ala. Fig. 2. Woman, Tahoua, 
French Niger Territory. 
CLII. Entertainers, Sokoto Market. Fig. 1. Dancing man. 

Fig. 2. Old musician. 
CLIII. Emir's Bodyguard, Potiskum. Fig. 1. Soldier wear- 
ing padded armor. Fig. 2. Guardsman protected 
by chain mail. 
CLIV. Benin and Ife. Fig. 1. Priests in charge of sacred 

grove, Ife. Fig. 2. Old moat, Benin. 
CLV. Nigerian Cults. Fig. 1. Sacred white crocodile, 
Ibadan. Fig. 2. Grove, Ife, sacred to Ogun, patron 
of blacksmiths. 
CLVI. Sacred Objects, Ife. Fig. 1. Terra cotta head of 
Lajawa. Fig. 2. Stone figure of Olofe-finra, Idena 
CLVII. Sacred Grove, Ife. Fig. 1. Priests opening box of 
terra cotta heads. Fig. 2. Close view of heads. 
CLVIII. Interior of Temple of God of Thunder, Ibadan. 
CLIX. Architecture, Kano. Fig. 1. General view. Fig. 2. 

Old city wall and gateway. 
CLX. Northern Nigeria. Fig. 1. School in market, Kano. 
Fig. 2. Emir of Fika with British staff of office. 


Owing to the generosity of Mr. Frederick H. Rawson, of Chicago, 
Field Museum of Natural History was able to organize the 
Frederick H. Rawson-Field Museum Ethnological Expedition to 
West Africa, 1929-30. I was appointed as leader. 

The former part of the expeditionary work was carried out in 
Angola (Portuguese West Africa). The expedition in Angola has 
formed the subject of a separate report (The Ovimbundu of Angola, 
No. 2 of this volume, 1934) ; therefore this monograph relates only 
to Nigeria. 

The results of the Nigerian journey of 5,000 miles are due largely 
to the hearty cooperation of the British Colonial and Foreign 
offices. Sir Frank M. Baddeley, Chief Secretary to the Government, 
received me at the Secretariat in Lagos where the assistance of the 
Under Secretary for Native Affairs and of the officers of the Public 
Works Department was secured. 

Sir Richmond Palmer, K.C.M.G., C.B.E., Lieutenant-Governor 
of Nigeria, took a close personal interest in the expedition. Expert 
assistance in transportation was given by officers of the Niger 
Company and the Barber West Africa Line. Thanks are due to 
Residents, District Officers, and other officials of Nigeria and French 
Niger Territory. 

Mr. T. C. Bramley deserves the hearty thanks of the expedition 
for his skill and interest in mechanical transport, in which he is 
adept, and for his general enthusiasm and reliability. Drawings 
of objects collected have been prepared by Mr. Carl F. Gronemann, 
Staff Illustrator of Field Museum. A note of appreciation would 
be incomplete without recognition of the services of three Hausa 
servants engaged at Sokoto. These men accompanied me into French 
Niger Territory, eastward to Lake Chad, and back to Lagos. Their 
capacity for work, general interest, and sense of humor contributed 
to the success and pleasant recollections of the expedition. 

The object of this report is an examination of the distribution 
of cultures in Nigeria. In a preliminary chapter these are shown to 
depend to a great extent on geographical and climatic factors. 
Archaeological and historical chapters describe racial movements, 
the founding of centers of culture, the influence of these on sur- 
rounding areas, and the blending of cultures as a result of migrations 
and warfare. 


374 Preface 

The chapter describing industries is primarily intended to be 
of service to museum curators who are concerned with technology. 
But in conclusion the information relating to industries is combined 
with geographical and historical data in order to make a study of 
the distributions of various types of culture, including those of the 
southern forests, the central plateau, and the northern savannas. 

Sociological and psychological studies are admittedly desirable 
in making ethnology a science of practical importance, since such in- 
quiries show the functioning of a culture, together with the problems 
and adjustments that are necessitated by a conflict of social forces. 
Yet it seems undeniable that history, geography, and pure ethnology 
must be regarded as fundamental. For although technical knowledge 
will not make a successful administrator or teacher, yet a broad back- 
ground is the logical approach to studies of behavior on which 
educators and administrators increasingly rely. With this idea in 
mind I have endeavored to give an analysis of data which will provide 
an introduction to more detailed social studies. 

Wilfrid Dyson Hambly 



Nigeria has an area of about 363,625 square miles situated between 
4° and 14° N. Lat., and 3° and 14° E. Long. On the west is the 
French possession of Dahomey, while French territory extends along 
the northern border through the region from Lake Chad to Timbuktu 
and from that point to the river Gambia. On the east of Nigeria 
lies the Cameroon. The south of Nigeria is bounded by the Bight 
of Benin and the Bight of Biafra. It is evident, therefore, that the 
south coast is close to the equator, being only 4° north of that line, 
while the whole country is within the northern tropic. 

The two chief rivers are the Niger and its tributary, the Benue. 
The former, which is a great commercial highway, enters Nigeria 
on the northwestern frontier, continues in a southeasterly direction, 
then flows due south to the Atlantic Ocean, which it enters by in- 
numerable mouths that form a vast, swampy delta. The Benue, 
which has considerable seasonal variation in depth, is a great natural 
highway from Yola in the far east of Nigeria to Lokoja, the point 
of its confluence with the Niger. 

Lake Chad is an extensive stretch of water receiving the drainage 
system of northeast Nigeria. The shallowness of the lake, which 
permits easy poling of canoes, has led to an exchange of peoples and 
products in this region. Within the memory of men now living on 
the western shore of the lake, the water stretched farther to the 
west. The nature of the black mud surrounding the western shore 
for many miles suggests that a deep deposit was laid down by the 
retreating waters. 

The elevation of Nigeria increases from the coast northward. 
Sokoto, in the far northwest, is about 1,100 feet above sea level. 
Kano has an elevation of 1,500 feet. Maiduguri is situated on the 
contour 1,180 feet. Lake Chad is about 800 feet above the sea, 
but Ibi occupies a low elevation of only 350 feet. The greatest 
elevation is attained in the Bauchi plateau, an extensive, rugged 
region having a mean altitude of 4,000 feet. 

Influential as these differences may be in considering culture 
patterns and contacts, climate and its attendant zones of vegetation 
are still more important in determining such occupations as agricul- 
ture, cattle-keeping, horse-breeding, and the use of camels. 


376 Culture Areas of Nigeria 

When making the expeditionary journey from Lagos northward 
to Tahoua on the border of the Sahara Desert, four distinct areas 
of rainfall and vegetation were crossed. The coastal portion of 
Nigeria is part of a more extensive region of heavy rainfall and dense 
tropical bush, stretching from the Gambia River eastward along the 
coast of the Gulf of Guinea. This area fills a large part of Cameroon, 
then extends over the whole of the Congo basin. The whole coastal 
belt of Nigeria for a distance of about two hundred miles inland 
is but a section of this extensive region whose cultures, following the 
determining and limiting climatic factors, show many resemblances. 

As one travels northward from Ibadan, considerable thinning of 
the bush is observed until at Bida many extensive stretches of 
magnificent undulating country are seen. The most correct impres- 
sion of the coastal jungle belt is obtained by sailing along the creeks 
near Sapele and Benin, or by observing the mud-flat vegetation and 
island dwellings when proceeding up the Bonny River to Port 

By the time Kaduna is reached a representative sample of the 
open savanna country is seen. This grassland, sometimes named 
parkland, stretches across Africa in a broad belt from the west coast 
to the region of the Great Lakes in east Africa. 

Gradually the vegetation becomes more sparse as the journey 
proceeds northward, dense clusters of trees are less frequently seen, 
and by the time Zinder is reached a semi-desert type of vegetation 
including euphorbias, baobabs, and prickly acacias is observed. 
The semi-desert belt has an extent corresponding to that of the 
parkland; that is to say, it lies across Africa from the Senegal to 
the Nile. 

The grassland and semi-desert belts have been of the greatest 
importance in mass migrations across Africa from east to west, 
while at the present time there is constant communication along this 
route by oxen, camels, and horses. Into this grassland and semi- 
desert extend the routes of the trans-Saharan caravans. 

At Tahoua, in French Niger Territory, about 15° north of the 
equator, the true desert begins. Oxen are still employed for trans- 
port, but Tahoua is the northerly limit of their use for long distance 
trekking. From Tahoua a camel track stretches northward to 
Agades near the mountains of Asben. The Sahara, with its alternat- 
ing sand dunes, stony desert, and rocky hills, merges gradually into 
semi-desert on the northern extremity. This almost imperceptibly 
changes to the warm temperate hilly regions of Algeria and Morocco. 

Geography 377 

Nigeria has three distinct ecological regions: the densely forested 
coastal region, a median parkland section, and a northern region of 
semi-desert. These areas of characteristic flora have closely 
correlated rainfalls. The wooded coastal region has an annual fall 
of one hundred inches or more. Gradually this supply decreases in 
a northward direction, with attendant thinning of vegetation and a 
gradual substitution of one type of flora for another. Between 8° 
and 14° N. Lat. the annual rainfall is forty-five inches or less. 

The heaviest rainfall occurs from April to October when large 
quantities of moisture are brought by southwest winds which become 
dry as they proceed north. In this season tornadoes are prevalent. 
The harmattan is a dry wind from the northeast which affects the 
whole of Nigeria from Lake Chad to the coast. In the months of 
November and December this wind, which is hot by day and cold 
by night, sweeps the country from Kano to Lake Chad. The air 
is thick with particles of dust which in the morning give the 
appearance of a heavy mist, and sometimes this condition persists 
throughout the day (W. Fitzgerald, rainfall map, p. 358). 

This brief survey of ecological regions serves as an introduction 
to the details of history, industrial life, and the distribution of types 
of culture, all of which have resulted in great measure from the 
geographical determinants. 

The expeditionary route passed among tribes speaking the main 
African languages. Sudanic languages of an isolating character are 
spoken by the Yoruba, Nupe, Kanuri, Angas, Keri-Keri, and 
Buduma. Semitic in the form of Arabic is the tongue of the Shuwa 
Arabs near Lake Chad. Hausa is to some extent Hamitic, but tones 
of semantic value that are present in Sudanic and Bantu Negro 
languages are found also in Hausa. The Fulani language is classified 
by C. Meinhof as Proto-Hamitic. 

The following geographical facts are of fundamental importance 
in the ensuing study of history and cultures of Nigeria: 

(1) The open northern region allowed a free passage of people 
across Africa. This resulted in a mixture of physical types, cultures, 
and languages. Foci of culture were established in situations from 
which, owing to the nature of the country, influences could radiate 
in all directions. 

(2) Warfare in the open northern spaces led to a segregation of 
tribes on the central plateau. Among the hills of this region are 
preserved cultural patterns differing notably from those to the north 
and south of them. 

378 Culture Areas of Nigeria 

(3) Warfare and tribal movements in the north brought pressure 
to bear on tribes, which were gradually forced into the dense forest 
regions of the south. This process resulted in the intrusion of 
Mohammedanism and other factors of a north African culture into 
some Negro cultures of southern Nigeria. 

(4) Rainfall, temperature, and the consequent types of flora have 
affected industries. Thus, wood-carving is present in many centers 
of the tropical forest, while leather work is characteristic of the 
north where cattle are kept. The distribution of camels, horses, 
and cattle is determined by humidity, the tsetse fly, and the density 
of vegetation. All these climatic, topographical, and biological 
factors are determinants of modes of life. 


Although a considerable amount of systematic archaeological 
work has been accomplished in Algeria, Egypt, Kenya, and south 
Africa, the stone age of the continent as a whole has not been 
historically and culturally explained. Reports and articles have 
been written describing stone ruins and the discovery of stone 
implements in many parts of Africa, but there remains a stupendous 
task of excavating and correlating the data. Nigeria, and in fact 
the whole region from Gambia to Cameroon, has produced evidence 
of cultures in which stone circles, stone monuments, and stone 
implements played an important part (see Bibliography: C. Monteil; 
M. H. Labouret; H. Balfour; H. J. Braunholtz). 

The archaeological evidence summarized by C. K. Meek (I, 
vol. I, pp. 51-56) relates to stone implements and stone circles. 
The Bauchi plateau has produced many examples of polished and 
unpolished celts, round hammer-stones, and arrowheads. The stone 
enclosures of Naraguta are similar to those in use by the Angas of 
the present day. Such structures are used as granaries and cattle 
kraals, and there is no reason to assume that disused stone buildings 
are the work of a people who were radically different from the 
tribes among whom such stone structures are found at present. 
Some stone circles at Naraguta may have been built by early Jukun 

Near Potiskum Captain F. G. B. Reynolds called my attention 
to some pits, each having a main shaft about fifteen feet deep going 
down vertically through a matrix of rock. From the bottom of the 
main shafts there branched off at angles of 45° several narrow shafts 
each about two feet in diameter. The origin of these pits is unknown 
to the Fika and other present-day inhabitants; neither are the 
suggestions postulating mining operations, refuge from foes, or 
storage of grain, satisfactory explanations. In most instances the 
excavators have hewn a shaft downward into a homogeneous mass 
of rock. Possibly a need for storing water was the incentive to this 
arduous work (F. G. B. Reynolds, II). 

Polished celts have formed the subject of several articles. After 
giving an account of the reverence paid to Shango throughout 
Yorubaland, P. M. Dwyer states that celts are worshipped under 
the name Adua. When the stones are first found they are said to 
be recent messengers from Shango, the thunder god. If a house 


380 Culture Areas of Nigeria 

is destroyed by lightning the owner has to placate Shango, who has 
shown his displeasure in this way. 

If no house is struck by lightning the priest arranges that a fire 
occurs so that he may have the opportunity of pretending to extract 
a celt, or "thunderbolt," from the ruins. After the celt has been 
carried away in a ceremonial manner the owner of the house pays 
a fine to the priest, who then intercedes with Shango on his behalf. 

H. Balfour (I), in speaking of a ceremonial celt, or "thunderbolt," 
from Benin, says, "It seems evident that this was an object of a 
sacred character over which libations of blood, not necessarily 
human, have been poured, and it is fair to conjecture that the stone 
axe was primarily regarded as a 'thunderbolt' and as such was kept 
in a,juju house or shrine as emblematic of the local thunder god." 

F. W. H. Migeod (III, pp. 252-258) gives a description of thirty 
stone artifacts which he found between Victoria and Yola, also near 
the Benue and Cross rivers. The polished axes are noted for their 
great size and fine finish, which he states to be superior to the 
polishing of implements from the Gold Coast. Most of the stones 
were found in a thin superficial layer of soil resting either on granite 
rock or Eocene sandstone; consequently the depth of deposit does 
not aid inquiry into antiquity. 

The Handbook to the ethnographical collections of the British 
Museum (p. 191) pictures stone mortars and rubbers which are 
associated in native legends with an extinct tribe formerly called 
Sau (or So) from the region south of Lake Chad. H. Gaden and 
R. Verneau found polished stone celts and three associated crania in 
this region. The authors express the opinion that discovery of a 
greater amount of osteological material in a better state of preserva- 
tion would have confirmed their opinion respecting the former 
presence of a neolithic race differing from the present-day inhabitants 
in somatic traits. 

Statuettes of stone and clay have been found and described by 
H. Neel, who gives particular attention to examples from Sherbro 
Island and Liberia. The nomori human figures of the Mende are 
said to be capable of giving fertility to the fields in which they are 
placed, often under a small shelter where offerings of food are made. 
If chastised, these figurines are said to go by night to steal rice from 
fields adjacent to those of their owner. Neel thinks that some of 
the statuettes are funerary figures because of the depression on the 
top of the head. This hollow he surmises to be a hole for the escape 
of a soul which had temporary residence in the stone figure. The 

Archaeology 381 

presence of an exaggerated phallus and Semitic features suggest to 
Neel a Phoenician origin. 

According to T. A. Joyce (II) no information is available with 
regard to the makers of nomori figures, but assumption of great 
antiquity is not necessary. Joyce is convinced that some of the 
figurines are modern since they correspond closely with present-day 
wood-carvings. Constant tribal incursions into this region where 
nomori figurines are now found might account for a rapid disappear- 
ance of the art of making them. The softness of the stone from which 
the figures are shaped facilitates weathering, and for this reason the 
erosions and abrasions may erroneously suggest antiquity. 

R. S. Rattray (III, pp. 322-331) discusses the antiquity of 
polished stone implements in Ashanti. These implements are 
associated with the cult of Nyame, the Sky God, from whom they 
are supposed to have originated, and many people believe that this 
divine origin gives the stones peculiar power. But some of the 
older inhabitants know that the stones are the work of human 
hands, and that they were used by former generations of the Ashanti 
at a fairly recent period. Rattray's informant stated that the long 
celts were used as hoes at a time when iron hoes were also employed. 

Nevertheless, there exists a general belief that celts popularly 
thought to be thunderbolts may be fastened against the body to 
cure disease, or they may be ground to powder and drunk in water 
with beneficial effect. Rattray concludes by saying that in his 
opinion "transition from the neolithic to the iron age was not 
sudden. The stone implement and the iron one that was eventually 
to oust it must have been for a time used side by side in forest and 

Stone circles of Gambia have been studied by both British and 
French investigators. H. Parker states that lithic remains in the 
Gambia Valley belong to two categories which are apparently 
unconnected. There are circles of worked stone pillars, and in 
addition to the circles occur menhirs, or single pillars, often erected 
far away from the circles. The rate at which the soil rises to cover 
the fallen pillars is not known, but some of the pillars may have 
been erected many centuries ago, for the accumulation of earth is 
considerable. Owing to a great difference between day and night 
temperatures, weathering and cracking of the stone is rapid, a fact 
that emphasizes the need for caution in estimating antiquity. 

The earliest known inhabitants of the Gambia region are the 
Seres and the Jolas, two agricultural tribes which came from the east 

382 Culture Areas of Nigeria 

along the Niger Valley; whether any earlier inhabitants were expelled 
is not known. At present the Yolofs associate these stone circles 
with the Earth Spirit, and a strong prejudice prevails against any 
attempt to make archaeological investigations. 

After a detailed survey Parker suggests that a Phoenician origin 
of these two types of stone monuments is possible. Yet no great 
immigration need be assumed, since the arrival of a small number 
of Carthaginians would account for the artifacts. Such a theory 
explains the excellence of the workmanship, the elliptical and car- 
touche-shaped forms, and the cutting of holes for the oil and wick 
of lamps. Acceptance of a Carthaginian origin would require a 
date between 570 B.C. and 147 B.C. The statement that the country 
was in an iron age when the stone circles were first built rests on the 
evidence afforded by a barbed iron spearhead, which was discovered 
in undisturbed soil within a stone circle. The question of a Cartha- 
ginian influence in the region from Gambia to Nigeria will recur 
when the stone monuments of Ife are described (chapter V). 

The archaeological work of L. Desplagnes leads him to agree 
with Rattray's opinion that stone implements are not necessarily 
of great antiquity. Desplagnes gives an account of the excavation 
of tumuli in which stone and iron implements occur together, and he 
has no doubt that the use of stone was prolonged into the age of iron. 

Similarity in the forms of stone implements over widely separated 
areas of Africa and other parts of the world has given rise to 
hypotheses of extensive racial migrations in prehistoric times. The 
artifacts which are compared have, however, great simplicity of 
form, and this fact favors the possibility that round, lanceolate, 
and ovate types of instruments would be likely to occur independently 
because of the effectiveness of their shapes. Desplagnes attributes 
the stone implements of the Nigerian plateau to the earliest of the 
Hamitico-Libyan excursions, which extended from the east to 
the west of Africa. An article by P. Laforgue discusses several of 
the hypotheses mentioned in this chapter. 

Only two points seem clear with regard to the stone monuments 
and stone implements of Nigeria. There is no necessity to assume 
great antiquity for stone implements since these probably were 
used along with iron implements, neither is there reason to postulate 
the intrusion and settlement of makers of stone implements who 
have no phylogenetic connection with present-day inhabitants. 

Further, an inspection of the stone monuments at Ife, and a 
perusal of the literature describing stone circles and monoliths in 

Archaeology 383 

Gambia, leaves the impression that there is no reason for attributing 
all these works in stone to one people or to one period. On 
the contrary the regional differences of style suggest that lithic 
origins will have to be considered as a series of local problems. 
Some correlation may be possible later; at present no justification 
exists for describing the human figure-stones of Ife, the stone circles 
of Gambia, and the stonework of the Bauchi plateau, as homogeneous 
evidence suggesting only one intrusion of builders. The whole 
of the archaeological evidence from west Africa is much too 
scanty to give definite information with regard to the physical types 
and cultures of prehistoric inhabitants of the region. But despite 
the inconclusive nature of the archaeological evidence some reliable 
information may be derived from a study of somatology, languages, 
and culture patterns. 

The Prehistoric Period 

In his "Descent of Man" Charles Darwin favored Africa as the 
place of origin of the Negro, but a commonly accepted hypothesis 
has regarded southern Asia as the original home of mankind, where 
racial types began to differentiate and to spread, not only toward 
Africa but in several other directions. Yet the ultimate origin of 
Negroes remains unknown, and the phylogenetic relations of Negroes 
to Pygmies, Bushmen, and Hottentots is not understood. 

But, as a working hypothesis which is consonant with the known 
facts of somatology, languages, and cultural patterns, ethnologists 
regard the region of northeast Africa near Lake Victoria Nyanza 
as a focus from which Negro tribes were forced westward. The 
probable line of migration was along the northern edge of the Congo 
basin, skirting the dense tropical forest and making use of the broad 
tract of parkland and semi-desert that extends across Africa from 
east to west. This route has long been accessible to migrants 
and armies who took advantage of the wet seasons and knew the 
locations of wells. 

Westerly migrations of Negro tribes were probably due to the 
entry into northeast Africa of successive waves of Proto-Hamites 
who differed in physique, language, and culture from the Negro 
aboriginals. Archaeological and osteological evidence of these early 
arrivals has been excavated and discussed by L. S. B. Leakey. 
Hamites occupied the Nile Valley and linguistically as well as somati- 
cally became an important element in the formation of an Egyptian 
type. The modern Somali, also the Beja and the Hadendoa of Red 
Sea Province are eastern Hamitic types, while the Libyans (Berbers) 
and the Tuareg are typical of the northern Hamites. Hypothesis, 
which is extremely conjectural, suggests that Hamitic incursions 
have been taking place from 10,000 B.C. and even from more remote 
times up to datable periods. But the Asiatic origin of Hamites is 
not finally determined, and G. A. Barton, basing his views chiefly 
on linguistic evidence, favors an African origin of Hamites. The 
inferential testimony of the Hamitic languages has been examined 
by C. Meinhof, C. Brockelmann, and W. Vycichl. 

The general opinion seems to be that these immigrants, who 
became linguistically, somatically, and culturally differentiated under 
several names in northern and eastern Africa, arrived in successive 


History and Exploration 385 

waves. Gradually the most typical Negro tribes, with distinctive 
physique and languages, were forced into the least favorable situa- 
tions of the coastal regions of Nigeria and farther west Africa. The 
Kru of Liberia, also the Ibo and the Ijaw of Nigeria, are typical 
Negroes, thick set, prognathous, and having thick everted lips and 
a high nasal index (Plates CXX, CXXI). 

Bantu-speaking Negroes are usually thought to have had their 
origin in the region of Lake Victoria, whence they spread westward 
into the central Congo region and Cameroon. Such migrations have 
caused a mixture of Bantu and Negro tongues, which in eastern 
Nigeria and the adjacent Cameroon are known as the Semi-Bantu 
languages. The evidence for Bantu migrations, some of which have 
occurred within recent centuries, rests on native traditions, mythol- 
ogy, somatological traits, the structure of languages, and comparison 
of cultural traits. 

The prehistory and early datable history of west Africa, from 
the seventh century onward, is complicated by the intrusion of 
Semitic elements. Before the Islamic period Semites from Arabia 
entered northeast Africa, spread into the Nile Valley, and extended 
westward along the whole length of north Africa. Semitic influence, 
both Islamic and pre-Islamic, has determined the culture of the 
Kababish of Kordofan, while Semitic influences have affected Nigeria, 
on which they have converged from the eastern Sudan and Lake 
Chad. Semitic migrations and cultural influences from north Africa 
have passed across the Sahara to Timbuktu, Kano, and the province 
of Bornu. 

The most penetrating Islamic migrations have been those of the 
seventh and the eleventh centuries of the Christian era, and of these 
the conquests of the latter period are the more important. Apart 
from great movements of historical note, Arabs have traveled 
widely over north and east Africa as merchants and slave raiders. 
The evidence for Semitic movements from the seventh century on- 
ward is adduced from written documents prepared by Arabian 
geographers and travelers whose contributions are discussed later. 
The somatic influence of Semitic intrusions has been estimated by 
C. G. Seligman (II, pp. 213-237) who thinks the cultural impact 
of Arabs far more important than the physical admixture. 

These racial movements have to be taken into account when 
considering the physique, languages, and industries of Nigeria. In 
addition to these main movements there is, especially among the 
Yoruba, what appears to be an intrusive non-Negro culture; this 

386 Culture Areas of Nigeria 

pattern has features of a Phoenician and Greco-Roman type, and 
among the Jukun rites pertaining to kingship are of an ancient 
Egyptian pattern. 

From east to west along the coast of Nigeria the occurrence of 
several linguistic groups may be noted. To the southwest of Cross 
River live tribes of Bantu speech, while west of these extends an 
area of Semi-Bantu speech. P. A. Talbot regards the I jaw tribe, 
which is situated on each side of the Niger Delta, as typical Negroes 
who have preserved a pure Negro speech that has existed from 
ancient times. He states that "I jaw is the earliest of all the Nigerian 
languages." This evidence agrees with the postulated forcing of 
early Negro inhabitants toward the coast. 

The Niger divides the Ibo to the east of the river from the Edo 
on the western bank, and still farther west are the Yoruba. The 
languages of these tribes are not yet studied in detail but the knowl- 
edge that is available supports the theory that the earliest Negro 
inhabitants are now represented by the maritime tribes. 

According to C. K. Meek (I, vol. II, pp. 132-137) there exist 
more than two hundred and thirty different languages in the Northern 
Provinces, and of these less than ten are adequately represented in 
grammars and dictionaries. This statement explains our present 
difficulty in classifying the languages and using the linguistic 
groups to support a hypothesis of prehistoric migrations. 

In turning to the evidence afforded by physical anthropology 
the paucity of anthropometric data has to be admitted, yet the 
photographs show certain fundamental types and their blendings 
(Plates CXVII-CXLI). These will be more fully discussed in 
succeeding chapters. Cultural differences, together with the geo- 
graphical and historical determinants of these, will be examined in 
chapter V. 

A method of culture analysis which showed the existence of 
several well-defined modes of life in Africa was used by A. de Preville 
in 1894. Since that time the method has been used by Clark Wissler 
in delimiting North American Indian cultures, while African modes 
of life have been classified and examined by M. J. Herskovits and 
by R. Thurnwald. 

The technique of delimiting culture areas and the fallacies that 
may arise from a too rigid application of the method have been dis- 
cussed by Carter A. Woods (Amer. Anthr., XXXVI, 1934, pp. 
517-523). R. Benedict (Patterns of Culture, Philadelphia, 1934, 
p. 46) likewise cautions that "the significance of culture behavior 

History and Exploration 387 

is not exhausted when we have clearly understood that it is local, 
man made, and hugely variable. ... It tends also to be integrated. 
Cultures are more than the sum of their traits." 

Admittedly, analyses of cultures may give rise to generalizations 
of dubious value, and the method may be too static. Moreover, 
human nature, considered both individually and collectively, is 
determined by many variables, some of which, for example, those 
concerned with motivation, conflict, and adjustment, are not well 
understood socially or psychologically. Therefore, the geographical 
and historical method used here for Nigeria as a whole is no more 
than a preliminary approach to future research concerning the 
tribal behavior and the social institutions of smaller geographical 
and ethnic units. 

History of the Northern Provinces 

Ethnologists are not entirely dependent on the inferential 
testimony of languages, somatic traits, and culture distributions. 
The Arabic manuscripts of Ibn Edrisi, Ibn Batuta, Ibn Khaldun, 
and Leo Africanus give valuable evidence respecting conflicts, the 
rise and decline of Sudanic empires, trade routes, and migrations. 
These data have been critically examined by Sir H. R. Palmer, 
M. Delafosse, and E. W. Bovill, whose work entitled "Caravans of 
the Old Sahara," is an excellent summary of historical facts from the 
seventh century onward. C. Monteil has examined the archaeo- 
logical and historical evidence connected with Djenne\ an ancient 
Sudanese city. 

Ghana (Kumbi) appears to have been the most ancient political 
center of the western Sudan. Founded about the third century of 
the Christian era, the state owed its power to non-Negro tribes who 
flourished until the middle of the thirteenth century, when Ghana 
was razed by Mandingo conquerors. 

The state of Songhai in the bend of the Niger had as principal 
towns Kukia, and later Gas. During several centuries the states 
of Ghana and Songhai flourished simultaneously, with the latter 
in a secondary position of strength and political influence. The 
rulers of Songhai are thought to have been of Himyaritic, Libyan, 
or Nilotic extraction. Much of the history of Songhai is intimately 
connected with the powerful kingdom of Melle built up by the 
Mandingo. Melle reached an acme of power in the period 1308-31, 
at which time the empire covered the whole of the western Sudan 
including the state of Songhai and the Tuareg town of Timbuktu. 

388 Culture Areas of Nigeria 

Ibn Batuta, who visited Melle in 1352, makes clear that the Melle 
empire was the most important political, religious, and commercial 
center in the Sudan. Even today some settlements of Kano, Katsina, 
Zaria, and Bauchi, all of which are in Nigeria, are traceable to the 
influence of Melle, which was an unrivaled stronghold of the 
Mohammedan faith. 

By the end of the fifteenth century Melle had been overthrown 
and had been succeeded by Songhai, which in turn was devastated 
in 1591 by a large army from Morocco. E. W. Bovill's account 
(I) of the Moorish invasion describes the way in which El Mansur 
set out from north Africa in the year 1581. The great wealth of 
the western Sudan was well known to Mediterranean peoples, but 
the Sahara Desert was a natural barrier separating the two regions. 
Between Morocco and Songhai keen rivalry existed for the salt 
mines of Teghaza. Of the march of Mansur's army across the 
desert details are lacking, but the enterprise must be classed with 
the great military achievements of history. Bovill's summary of 
events describes the attack on Songhai, the defeat, and partial 
recovery of the Songhai empire; also the final overthrow. 

The struggles of these rival kingdoms of the western Sudan 
emphasize the importance of geographical factors in the building of 
empires. From the bend of the Niger to Lake Chad no obstacles 
prevent a free movement of horse and foot soldiers, camel corps, 
and transport by oxen; therefore, military operations were not 
impeded except by intermittent drought. 

Synchronizing with this rise and fall of empires in the western 
Sudan, similar political, racial, and cultural movements occurred 
far to the east, in the neighborhood of Lake Chad. At one time 
Kanem was a center of political power which later became known 
as Bornu. Probably Kanem was an incipient kingdom in the period 
a.d. 800-1100. El Bekri had heard of Kanem in the middle of the 
eleventh century, and in the thirteenth century Ibn Said refers to 
Bornu as forming part of the Kanem empire. The empire of Bornu 
was engaged in combat with the So, a tall race of Nilotic invaders 
possibly having some resemblance to the present Jukun. 

The rise, consolidation, and expansion of Bornu have formed one 
of the most important chapters of Nigerian history. Gradually 
Kanem became a subject province, and following this, expeditions 
were successfully launched against the Tuareg of Asben, likewise 
against Hausa strongholds in Kano, Sokoto, Katsina, and Daura. 

History and Exploration 389 

After discussing the evidence afforded by the Asben Chronicle 
and the Katsina Manuscript, with due regard to equivocal evidence 
respecting dates, and the names of people and places, Palmer 
(V, vol. Ill, p. 95) states: "The central fact is that about a.d. 1000 
the Hausa states were occupied by Barbar races (Beri-Beri) coming 
from the east and the north. These races ruled, though at different 
periods, and as tributaries to Songhai and Bornu, until displaced 
by the Fulani in 1807. . . . The name Hausa is the one by which 
the Barbars of the Sahara, who were the conquering races possibly 
under Egyptian, and later Arab influence, knew the Sudanese 

At the beginning of the nineteenth century Bornu was a well- 
organized and powerful state which maintained prestige notwith- 
standing a temporary conquest by the Wadaians, who were eventually 
defeated. Omar ruled as Shehu of Bornu until his death in 1880; 
consequently, he became acquainted with the explorers Barth, 
Vogel, Rohlfs, Richardson, and Nachtigal. The origin of the present- 
day Kanuri tribes of Bornu is not known, though they probably 
entered Bornu in the fourteenth century. The Keri-Keri are a 
modern branch of the tribes who developed into the Kanuri, while 
the Bolewa, a ruling tribe near Potiskum, arrived with the pre- 
Kanuri (Plates CXXVII, CXXXIV). 

The date 1814 is important because of the founding of Kukawa, 
the new capital of Bornu, a city which was later (1893) destroyed 
by Rabeh, a conqueror from Kordofan. Rabeh made his new capital 
at Dikwa, where he continued to rule and pillage until defeated and 
killed by French forces in the year 1900. The political significance 
of Rabeh's exploits has been described by M. F. von Oppenheim. 

The Fulani, who are known in various parts of west Africa as 
Fulas, Fulbe, Fellata, and Peule, have played an important part 
in the history of Bornu and other parts of Nigeria. The ethnological 
affinities of the Fulani are undecided. They appear (Plates CXXXV, 
CXXXVI) to have a distinctly Berber-like appearance, and the 
features of some individuals are of an Armenoid type. Palmer favors 
the hypothesis of an origin which includes a mingling of Jewish, 
Arab, and Zaghawa (Cushite) blood. C. K. Meek believes that 
the Fulani may be an ancient Libyan (northern Hamitic) tribe. 
Delafosse has a theory of Judaeo-Syrian origin, but most ethnologists 
agree on the Hamitic affinities of the Fulani, both somatically and 
linguistically, though the speech is probably an early form of Hamitic. 

390 Culture Areas of Nigeria 

Despite the doubtful origin of the Fulani, their function as makers 
of Nigerian history is clear in outline. The Fulani penetrated Nigeria 
peacefully and gradually from the thirteenth century onward. But 
this settlement as pastoral people was followed by a demand for 
political power. To a great extent the Fulani are nomads, yet they 
settled and concentrated their forces sufficiently to establish their 
foci by conquest. 

In 1808 the Fulani subdued the Hausa states, after which they 
unsuccessfully assailed Bornu. The nineteenth century history of 
the Yoruba and the Nupe of southern Nigeria is concerned with 
their struggle to keep out Fulani assailants. Between 1817 and 1823 
Ilorin was added to the Fulani empire, which comprised several 
loosely confederated states, all of which paid tribute to the Fulani 
of Sokoto. The Fulani empire experienced internal rebellions, civil 
wars, decline of the Islamic fervor that had been an incentive to 
conquest, and a breaking down of military organization. The 
final overthrow of the Fulani states was effected by the British 
Government, which took action in the period 1900-1903, after 
the Royal Niger Company had defeated the Fulani rulers of Bida 
and Ilorin. 

This outline of historical events emphasizes the importance of 
the following facts: 

(1) There was a constant drift of Hamiticized peoples from the 
east of Africa to the province of Bornu in northeast Nigeria. 

(2) Invasions from the Sahara occurred. The intruders came 
from Barbar and Semitic tribes of Morocco, Air (Asben), Tibesti, 
and Bilma. 

(3) The invaders established great empires in the western Sudan, 
and from the eighth century onward Mohammedanism became a 
political and social factor that stimulated warlike enterprises. 

(4) The rivalry of the empires of the western Sudan led to 
fluctuations of population, establishment of foci of culture, and 
migration of religious, social, and economic cultural traits. 

(5) Great cultural and political pressure was exerted from the 
north of Nigeria on the southern provinces. 

History of the Southern Provinces 

The migration of Negroes from east to west Africa has, according 
to hypothesis, formed a physical, linguistic, and cultural foundation 
best seen in the Ijaw, Ibibio, Ibo, Munshi, and Ekoi. On this 

History and Exploration 391 

substratum of Negro culture new physical, linguistic, and cultural 
elements have been imposed. These traits, added to the basic layer 
of Negro culture, are most clearly seen when studying the Yoruba, 
Nupe, and Jukun tribes. Furthermore, within the Yoruba culture, 
highly specialized local cultures such as those of Benin, Ife, and 
Oyo have developed. The city of Bida represents a cultural focus 
of this kind which is typical of the Nupe civilization. Wukari is 
a center of Jukun culture, which according to the views of C. K. 
Meek has borrowed cultural elements from Egyptian civilization. 
However, the borrowed elements may be generically Hamitic and 
not specifically Egyptian. 

Although the civilization of the Yoruba has its distinguishing 
marks there would be no difficulty in showing well-defined cultural 
relationships between Ashanti, Dahomey, and Yorubaland, whose 
cultures have had their foci at Kumasi, Abomey, and Benin respec- 
tively. Such relationships are made clear by comparative study of 
Rattray's "Ashanti"; Dalzel's "History of Dahomey"; Skertchly's 
"Dahomey as It Is"; Le Heriss6's "L'ancien royaume du Dahomey"; 
Johnson's "History of the Yorubas"; and Herskovits' "Outline of 
Dahomean Religious Belief." 

The history of the Yoruba is a long and complicated story having 
three main aspects; namely, warfare with Dahomey, civil warfare 
among the main centers of Yoruban power and culture, and strife 
against northern Mohammedan invasions. To these events might 
be added resistance to European intrusion. 

An examination of cultural traits which give the Yoruba civiliza- 
tion a distinctive pattern is made in chapter V. Talbot (I, vol. I, 
p. 19) attributes the features which distinguish Yoruban culture 
from that of other west African Negroes to the influence of racial 
and cultural elements from the Nile Valley. A succession of migra- 
tions from the northeast appears probable, the hypothetical sequence 
being early Yoruban, Nupe, and Jukun at undated periods. The 
cultural and racial intrusions of a non-Negro character are attributed 
by Talbot to disturbances in Egypt at the time of the Hyksos 
invasion, about 1800 B.C. 

S. Johnson outlines four periods of Yoruba history. A long 
mythological period is represented in oral traditions kept by the 
king's officials who have charge of genealogies and historical records. 
These data comprise an almost inextricable confusion of fact and 
fable. There exist in the records accounts of different persons with 
the same or similar names, and different names are given to one 

392 Culture Areas of Nigeria 

person. Neither can place names be satisfactorily identified with 
present-day localities. The mythological period was succeeded by 
one of growth, prosperity, and consolidation. Then came a long 
political decline marked by internal strife, revolution, and disruption. 
This desiccation of tribal life was at times relieved by partial recovery, 
and finally a period of European conquest prevailed. 

The cultural significance of historical events is clear, though 
only the main outline of events is beyond dispute. Cultural contacts 
have been those of intermittent warfare with the Fulani, with 
Dahomey, and against Europeans; and as a result of these activities 
centers of culture and political administration were established. 
Benin at one time extended a cultural and military control from the 
region of Kotonu in Dahomey to the Bonny River. S. Johnson 
states (p. 15) that Yoruban control formerly extended as far as the 
Gas-speaking people of Accra. The Gas state that their ancestors 
came from Ife in southwest Nigeria, and in support of this statement 
it may be said that the structure of the Ga language is more like 
Yoruba than Fanti. Until recent times Popos and Dahomeans 
paid tribute to Oyo as a suzerain town, and there is no doubt that 
the Yoruban king Oranyan pushed his conquests far beyond the 
present limits of Yoruban territory. 

The establishment of new kingdoms from strong foci is illustrated 
by the founding of the Jekri kingdom in 1480, when a son of the 
Obba of Benin took refuge in a part of the delta region which he and 
his descendants subsequently ruled. Therefore, according to 
historical evidence, the sequence of events in southern Nigeria was 
analogous to the processes noted for the Northern Provinces. Foreign 
intrusion of non-Negro elements stimulated growth of some Negro 
communities and forced others into a state of isolation. Those 
who absorbed the new blood and culture were consolidated both 
politically and culturally. Then followed the rise of political foci 
from which military and cultural conquests were made. Meanwhile 
from the fifteenth century onward European influence was gaining 
ground in a manner that will be realized from consideration of the 
main facts of European exploration, the founding of trading com- 
panies, and finally a formal assumption of European control. 


Reference has been made to the writings of early travelers of 
Arab and Berber extraction, and to the works of Arab historians 
and geographers who compiled and summarized the contributions 

History and Exploration 393 

of their predecessors. The observations of Leo Africanus, correctly 
named Al-Hassan Ibn Mohammed Al-Wezaz Al-Fasi, are very 
important in relation to the history of the great kingdoms of the 
Niger and Nigeria. But earlier accounts of Ibn Batuta (1325-54) 
and his precursors of the period a.d. 700-1300 help to show the 
cultural and historical significance of the towns of Agades, Timbuktu, 
Gao, Kano, and Katsina, and the province of Bornu. 

Leo Africanus was born in Granada about the year 1494, and for 
three centuries his writings endured as the principal authority on 
north and west-central Africa. Leo Africanus traveled extensively 
in Morocco, Algeria, and the Rio de Oro. Even today the Rio de 
Oro is imperfectly explored owing to marauding bands, drought, 
and paucity of population. Africanus crossed the Sahara from the 
north and reached Timbuktu at the bend of the Niger, whose course 
was then unknown. He traversed an easterly route through Kano 
to Bornu, then continued to the south of Lake Chad. Despite the 
value of the records of Leo Africanus he made the serious error of 
stating that the Niger flowed from east to west. 

Exploration of Nigeria has been made from three main directions, 
north from across the Sahara, west by way of the Niger, and south 
up the creeks of the Niger Delta. In 1799 Hornemann, who was 
sent from Tripoli by the British African Association, succeeded in 
crossing the Sahara, but later lost his life in the desert. From 
Tripoli (1821), Denham, Clapperton, and Oudney crossed the 
Sahara between Murzuk and Bornu on the line 15° E. Long., a 
route that led through the salt-producing oasis of Bilma to Kuka 
on the western shore of Lake Chad. Denham explored the Shari 
River and Lake Chad region, while Clapperton visited Sokoto, an 
excursion that cost the life of Oudney. Ensign Toole, who accom- 
panied Denham on his journey near Lake Chad, succumbed to fever, 
but the survivors, Clapperton, Denham, and Hillman reached 
Tripoli in 1825. Their diaries have contributed historical and 
ethnological facts concerning the Hausa kingdom of Sokoto, the 
rising power of Bornu, the Baghirmi, the Fulani, and the desert 
routes passing through Bilma and Tibesti. 

After severe hardships and a narrow escape from death at the 
hands of robbers, Major Laing succeeded in reaching Timbuktu in 
1826, where he was followed two years later by R£n£ Caillie\ The 
former explorer lost his life at the hands of desert marauders, but 
the latter returned safely to France. 

394 Culture Areas of Nigeria 

In the year 1850 Richardson, Barth, and Overweg left Tripoli 
to travel southward through Murzuk, from which point they crossed 
the desert to Asben, where valuable notes were made in the city of 
Agades. The scientific observations made during this expedition, 
which cost the lives of Richardson and Overweg, are contained in 
James Richardson's "Narrative of a Mission to Central Africa, in 
1850-51," and Barth's "Travels and Discoveries in North and 
Central Africa." Barth's command of Arabic and Hausa, combined 
with his incomparable courage, physical strength, and persistence, 
resulted in the publication of five volumes dealing with the history, 
languages, cultures, and biology of the French Sudan, northern 
Nigeria, and the trans-Saharan route. At Kuka near Lake Chad, 
and elsewhere, Barth came into contact with Vogel, who had been 
sent from England in charge of a relief expedition. Barth himself 
penetrated to the province of Yola in eastern Nigeria. 

F. G. Rohlfs was prepared for his arduous desert journeys by 
service in the French Foreign Legion, in which he enlisted in 1855. 
He was the second European to reach Tafilet, where he was robbed, 
but although left as dead he revived and traveled to Algeria. In 
1865 Rohlfs left Tripoli, journeyed through Ghadames and Murzuk, 
thence to Bornu. He reached the Benue by the Bauchi highlands 
and followed the course of that river to its junction with the Niger, 
which he ascended to Rabba. From that point he journeyed to 
Lagos, passing through Ilorin in 1867. 

Two years later (1869) Gustav Nachtigal set out from Tripoli, 
visited Tibesti and Borku, then continued to Baghirmi south of 
Lake Chad. From that region he turned east and, after traversing 
Wadai and Kordofan, reached Khartum (1874). The record of 
this journey is contained in "Sahara und Sudan." For political 
reasons Nachtigal crossed the Sahara a second time to undertake 
a mission which resulted in the addition of Togoland and Cameroon 
to the German empire (1884). Nachtigal died near Cape Palmas 
on his return journey by sea. To this period of exploration belongs 
the journey of Oscar Lenz (1879-80) who crossed the western Sahara 
from Morocco to Timbuktu by a route little known to ethnologists 
and geographers at the present day. 

The Foureau-Lamy French expedition across the Sahara to Lake 
Chad opened a new era of modern enterprise. To this recent period 
belong the journeys of H. Vischer (1908), A. H. W. Hayward (1909), 
Angus Buchanan (1922), Haardt and Dubreuil (1924), and Lieu- 
tenant Cameron (1926). Such crossings have made contributions 

History and Exploration 395 

to botany, zoology, and ethnology. F. R. Rodd, who accompanied 
Buchanan, remained in Air for ethnological work among the 
Tuareg, whose culture he describes in "People of the Veil." Two 
noted recorders of Tuareg life are C. de Foucauld and H. Duveyrier. 
The ethnology of Tibesti, Bilma, and Fachi has been inadequately 
described. But an article by P. Noel is a valuable though brief 
outline of the social life and physical anthropology of the Teda 
and the Tibbu of Tibesti. 

The most important journeys of exploration toward Nigeria from 
the west of Africa were those of Mungo Park, whose expeditions were 
sponsored by the British African Association formed in 1788. After 
suffering great hardships between Gambia and Segu, on the Niger, 
Park returned to England in 1797 leaving the course and outlet of 
the Niger an unsolved problem. A second expedition in 1805 
ended in the death of Park and his companions at the Bussa Rapids. 
Peddie (1816), Major Gray, together with Dochard (1818), and 
Park's son, who went in quest of his father, laid down their lives in 
some unknown way while following the western approach to the Niger. 

The earliest contacts of Europeans with southern Nigeria were 
made by the Portuguese toward the close of the fifteenth century. 
Sequira visited Benin in 1472, but not until 1553 did the British 
make contact with this city through the enterprise of Windham 
and Pinteals. About ten years later Sir John Hawkins was engaged 
in the slave trade near the Nigerian coast. Then followed a great 
expansion of coastal and hinterland trade in which English, Portu- 
guese, French, and Dutch vessels took part. Reports concerning 
this early stage of European trade have been made by Dapper 
(1688), van Nyendael (1702), Landolphe (1778), Fawckner (1825), 
Beecroft (1851), and Burton (1862). These accounts have been 
summarized, and a bibliography has been provided in H. Ling 
Roth's "Great Benin." 

In 1896 Acting Consul-General Phillips decided on a mission 
to Benin, although advised by both Europeans and the Obba of 
Benin not to enter the town because important festivals were in 
progress. The Consul left Sapele in January, 1897, and within 
two days the expedition was ambushed and annihilated with the 
exception of two Europeans, Locke and Boisragon, along with some 
native followers. The punitive expedition which sacked Benin 
thirty-four days later brought away treasures of ivory, bronze, 
and wood-carving, unfortunately with only a meager account of 
their ethnological importance. 

396 Culture Areas of Nigeria 

Commander Clapperton, who had accompanied Denham and 
Oudney on the north Nigerian and trans-Saharan expedition of 1821, 
reached the Bight of Benin in 1825 accompanied by Pearce, Morrison, 
Dickson, and Richard Lander. The only survivor of this expedition 
was Lander, personal servant of Clapperton. To Lander fell the 
honor of discovering the outlet of the Niger on a later expedition. 
On landing in 1825 Clapperton was disappointed when he failed to 
meet an escort promised by Sultan Bello of Sokoto, who was too 
busily engaged in warfare to fulfil his promise. Clapperton proceeded 
north from Badagry through Oyo and Yauri to Kano and from there 
to Sokoto, where he died in 1827. 

Lander returned to England, where he obtained a small grant 
from the British Government. Then again he sailed for Nigeria, 
where he landed in 1830 accompanied by his brother John. The 
brothers set out on foot for Yauri, and the chief of that place 
provided dugout canoes for their journey down the Niger to its 
estuary. Without remarkable adventures they passed the junction of 
the Benue and the Niger, then continued south, finally landing at 
the port of Brass. This river voyage solved the problem that had 
exercised the minds of geographers from the time of Herodotus 
(500 B.C.). 

The ill-fated Nigerian expedition of 1841 has been described by 
W. Allen and T. R. H. Thomson, who were accompanied by 145 
scientists, missionaries, and commercial men. Of these, one-third 
fell victims to malaria fever. Mr. McGregor Laird, who had led 
an expedition to the lower Niger in 1830, opposed the venture of 
1841 and foretold disaster. The failure and distress of this expedition 
discouraged further attempts until 1854, when Laird organized an 
investigation which yielded commercial and scientific results without 
loss of life. Under the command of W. B. Baikie the Pleiad ascended 
the Niger as far as the junction of the Benue, which was explored for 
a distance of two hundred and fifty miles. Governor John Beecroft 
of Fernando Po, who had labored incessantly in exploring the 
Nigerian coast and the hinterland, died at the time he was com- 
missioned to take charge of Laird's expedition of 1854. 

From this time onward the history of exploration and development 
is concerned with the rise, competition, and amalgamation of 
trading companies, to which administrative functions were delegated. 
Apathy of the British Government, combined with jealousies, political 
and commercial, between England, Germany, France, and Holland, 

History and Exploration 397 

added to the dangers and uncertainties caused by warfare among 
rival Nigerian chiefs. 

Despite political duties, adverse climate, and the hostility of 
natives, some British officers were able to make exploratory journeys 
that were of geographical and ethnological value. In 1879 J. Milum 
described the industries and customs of the Nupe of Bida. In these 
early journals no complete ethnological study is given. On the 
contrary, information has to be gleaned from many articles, each 
of which gives miscellaneous items of anthropological interest. Sir 
A. Moloney made notes on the Yoruba. R. B. Batty described 
sacred groves and the ceremonial use of bull-roarers. Further 
information respecting Nigerian towns that had made few contacts 
with Europeans is recorded by Alvan Millson. 

Diaries of traders may furnish ethnological notes, which, in the 
absence of systematic research, are useful additions to our knowledge 
of indigenous customs. "Life on the Niger," a diary of W. Cole, 
calls attention to social and religious customs of Onitsha. Con- 
clusion of peace between native rulers was marked by the slaying of 
an albino (p. 14). The manufacture of palm-oil, human sacrifice, 
the use of a slave as a seat, and the observance of a food taboo 
against eggs are mentioned. Decorating a woman's back with 
painted patterns that were later incised, the wearing of large ivory 
anklets, each weighing twenty-two pounds, making cakes of potash, 
ceremonies observed at the birth of twins, and the treatment of 
boys at initiation, are described. 

The journey of Lieutenant Boyd Alexander in 1904 was of a 
general exploratory nature, yet he passed through large tracts of 
unknown country and amassed information respecting many tribes 
which have not been thoroughly studied even at the present day. 
His route was up the Niger to Lokoja, situated at the junction of 
that river and its main tributary, the Benue. Boyd Alexander then 
passed through the Munshi country, the land of the Jukun 
near Wukari, and the Bauchi plateau, whose tribes are still 
imperfectly known. This explorer described Bornu and the 
region of Lake Chad with special reference to the Buduma. He 
continued through French Equatorial Africa to the Nile. 

This brief summary of historical events and inferential testimony 
derived from physical anthropology, archaeology, and languages, 
establishes certain basic facts which require further comment. 

Geographical determinants have played an important part in 
historical developments, including migrations, warfare, and types 

398 Culture Areas of Nigeria 

of culture, but archaeological data are too fragmentary to do more 
than suggest that foreign intrusion affected Negro culture locally. 
Various types of stone buildings and artifacts are not yet historically 

The study of languages and physical traits supports a current 
hypothesis of Hamitic and Semitic invasions from the north and 
northeast of Africa. These incursions always tended to sequestration 
of pristine Negro tribes, either in inaccessible plateau regions or 
in dense tropical forest, both of which situations were less favorable 
than the open parklands. 

Mohammedan influences, social, religious, political, and economic, 
have been profound. European exploration has led to a situation in 
which foreign control of indigenous institutions has raised problems 
relating to general administration. These problems include questions 
of health, education, native labor for Europeans, and the general 
adjustment of indigenous cultures to European requirements. 

In the following chapter a detailed account of Nigerian industries 
is given with a view to showing the relationship of these to an 
aboriginal Negro culture, Mohammedan invasions from north Africa, 
and European intervention. 


At the beginning of the journey into Nigeria discouraging accounts 
were given with regard to the influence of European importations 
on native crafts; and to some extent indigenous industries are 
affected by European contacts. But, notwithstanding imitation 
of European objects, and a growing importation of manufactured 
and raw materials, the native industries of Nigeria repay the effort 
of collecting and study. The innate skill of Negroes and the advanced 
development of native crafts have an important bearing on the 
founding of industrial schools and the nature of the training given 

In addition to the interest that centers in technical processes, 
problems of invention and diffusion are closely associated with a 
study of handicrafts. Some forms of art, for example, the decoration 
of gourds, are of local and perhaps independent invention, but other 
artifacts have a wider range which depends on culture contacts, 
migrations, the presence of raw materials, and the needs of the 

Elaborate wood-carving is typical of forest regions where various 
timbers are plentiful, as, for example, in the Southern Provinces. 
Here religion, with its demand for masks and figurines, has proved 
an incentive to the wood-carver's art. In the Northern Provinces, 
on the contrary, absence of timber, combined with Mohammedan 
influences that discountenance the carving of wooden figures, has 
rendered the wood-carver's occupation unimportant. But use of 
horses and camels in northern regions has stimulated the crafts of 
blacksmiths and leather workers. Determining factors of this kind 
will be recognized in describing Nigerian industries and in studying 
culture patterns. 

The industries of Benin have been of such importance as to 
require description apart from Nigerian handicrafts in general. 
The arts of the city, chiefly casting in bronze, wood-carving, and 
ivory-carving, had reached their zenith when Europeans arrived, at 
the end of the fifteenth century. Fostered by the king himself, who 
retained workers in the royal compound, and closely associated with 
religious observances, several handicrafts had attained a degree 
of excellence which has not been surpassed in any part of the world. 
The growth and decline of Benin illustrate the operation of several 
cultural processes, including the formation of craft guilds, the 


400 Culture Areas of Nigeria 

founding of foci from which cultural influences spread, and the 
decadence that begins under an unsympathetic foreign intrusion 
which interferes with the liaison between art and religion. 

Bronze-casting is of exceptional interest because of the unknown 
origin of the lost-wax process. There is a definite west African 
distribution of this technique on the Ivory Coast, in Dahomey, 
Ashanti, Nigeria, and the Bagam area of the Cameroon. The method 
of work is essentially the same in all these centers, though the 
products of each locality are distinguishable by their forms. L. W. G. 
Malcolm's statement (III), that the chief of Bamum described the 
art as an adoption from an invading people from the northeast, 
agrees with all that is known and surmised about the drift of tribes 
and cultural traits in north and west Africa. 

The hypothesis that bronze-casting was introduced into Benin 
by the Portuguese now finds no supporters, though some years ago 
G. H. Pitt-Rivers (Introduction, p. iv) said that "the works represent 
a phase of art of which there is no actual record, although no doubt 
we cannot be far wrong in attributing it to European influence, 
probably that of the Portuguese somewhere in the sixteenth century." 

Bronze staffs pictured by Pitt-Rivers (Plate XI, Figs. 66-72) 
establish a point of cultural resemblance between Benin and Ife. 
The staffs illustrated by Pitt-Rivers are like those now in use by 
priests who are custodians of a sacred grove at Ife (Plate CLIV, 
Fig. 1). P. A. Talbot (IV, vol. I, p. 157) states that up to the time 
of Portuguese intrusion most of the Benin bronze-casting came 
from Ife, but from that time, and owing to the large quantity of 
metal provided by the Portuguese, the greater part of the work 
was done in Benin. This sudden European impetus to the casting 
process at Benin may have given rise to the hypothesis that casting 
owed its beginning to the Portuguese. 

The west African distribution of the lost-wax process renders a 
number of independent origins unlikely, since the places of occurrence 
lie on a line of racial migrations that are more than a conjecture. 
Flinders Petrie (p. 98) calls attention to the beating of copper vessels 
in predynastic Egypt. A life-size statue of King Pepy, with hands 
and feet cast by the lost-wax process, provides an example of casting 
in the ninth dynasty, and archaeological evidence indicates that 
bronze was cast by the lost-wax process in dynasty XVIII, about 
1600 B.C. 

Copper and tin are found in Nigeria; therefore immigrants had 
the raw material for continuing their craft. And even if a knowledge 

Industries 401 

of casting were introduced into west Africa by Arabs as late as the 
eleventh century, ample time for perfecting the industry would have 
been available before the arrival of Europeans. 

The studies of F. von Luschan (I) and E. von Sydow, based on 
a stylistic and chronological classification of objects from Benin, 
lead to the conclusion that the art of casting bronze had attained 
its zenith before the arrival of Europeans. Luschan calls the period 
from 1500 to 1600 the Great Age. It was mainly concerned with 
the casting of bronze heads, though the molding of bas-reliefs had 
begun. In the second half of the seventeenth century the art had 
passed its prime, but the output was varied and of good quality; 
the cast objects of this period include snakes and cocks. By the 
eighteenth century the casting showed insufficient technique and 
"a meaningless lack of expression. The actual type was not changed 
but the work lost its inherent power." 

Brass-casting of the year 1930 as carried out by boys of the trade 
school, which is supervised by the Obba of Benin, represents the 
latest stage in a decline of the art of casting, which has now lost 
almost all the former social and religious incentive. Yet the technique 
is creditable, and I was able to obtain a series of objects illustrating 
the processes of modeling in wax, the use of molds, and the finishing 
of objects by filing. The articles were chiefly of European form, 
though the brass bell is of the type used on the ancient altar (Plate 
XCIX, Figs. 1-10). 

I was received by the Obba of Benin near the courtyard in which 
the altar is erected. The photograph (Plate CXV, Fig. 2) shows 
a retention of rites and objects that are mentioned in reports of early 
European visitors to Benin. The Obba advanced under a large 
colored umbrella carried by a servant, while seven naked boys 
acted as an escort. One of these boys bore a large scimitar held 
upright in his right hand, while his left arm was bent across his body 
to support the arm that was holding the sword. The executioner's 
sword was photographed by Punch in 1892, and his picture is 
reproduced in Ling Roth's "Great Benin" (Fig. 165, p. 168). 
The corps of naked boys (Ohunnse), some of whom are in attendance 
either by day or night, is chosen from the Ibiwe and Iwegwe societies 
(P. A. Talbot, IV, vol. Ill, p. 546). 

The Obba led the way to the altar, for the description of which 
I am indebted to the Resident in Benin City. The account was pre- 
pared in the year 1924 by Mr. H. N. Nevins, District Officer of 

402 Culture Areas of Nigeria 

Benin Division. The data are valuable as a record with which 
future observations can be compared. Mr. Nevins reports as 

"The shrine is situated in a courtyard measuring 51.85 x 30 m. 
This courtyard is surrounded by a red mud wall approximately 
4.6 m. in height. The wall is roofed all round with galvanized sheets, 
forming on three sides a verandah about 1.8 m. deep, which is pro- 
vided with a mud seat about 30 cm. high and 60 cm. wide. The 
fourth side has a wider roof and the verandah is 3.10 m. deep, the 
floor being built up 40 cm. above the level of the courtyard and 

"In the center is a slightly raised platform of cement 8 m. long, 
3.15 m. wide, and 10 cm. high. In the middle of this is erected the 
pedestal which accommodates the various objects. This pedestal 
is of red beaten clay, and is in shape roughly half an oval; it is 45 cm. 
high in front, and slopes down to a height of 40 cm. at the back, 
where it is built against the carved Iroko plank which stands at a 
slight slope against the back wall of the yard. This wall, like the 
other walls, is of red mud 4.6 m. in height, and ribbed with parallel, 
horizontal grooves about 4 cm. deep and 5 cm. apart. Two steps 
extending the length of the raised platform lead up to the shrine; 
they are of cement, 25 cm. high, and 8.2 m. long." 

According to Ling Roth (III) the ditch around Benin was the 
work of Oguola, the fourth king. The ditch was not made for defense, 
but as a monument that should remind the people of the king, after 
his death. The density of vegetation now filling the moat is shown 
in Plate CLIV, Fig. 2. The city wall has been built of earth from 
the moat. The height of the wall is about 9 m., with a breadth of 
21 m. at the base. 

The contents of the altar, which is difficult to photograph because 
of its situation in deep shade, are but a remnant of its former equip- 
ment, which has been described by several visitors of the eighteenth 
and nineteenth centuries. The observations of these explorers have 
been summarized by Ling Roth (I, p. 236, and III, p. 79). 

In the year 1702 van Nyendael observed eleven tusks on the 
altar, a number which had slightly diminished by 1820, when the 
altar was described by Lieutenant King. In the year 1930 no tusks 
remained on the altar, and the total equipment of the structure 
consisted of seven long wooden staffs centrally placed at the back, 
so that they leaned against the wall; six cast-brass bells; two heads 
of brass or bronze, apparently recently made; and a central human 

Industries 403 

figure of brass or bronze. This central figure was supported in the 
traditional way by two smaller figures, one on each side. 

Ling Roth discusses the question of sacrifice and sprinkling the 
altar with blood, a custom about which the evidence is conflicting. 
Animals are killed at the base of the altar at the present time. The 
steps are spotted with blood, and the objects on the shrine are 

In the crafts school (Plate CXV, Fig. 1) only two tusks were 
being carved. The artisans were boys who carefully cut the surfaces 
with sharp knives, so making the designs which are familiar on old 
tusks; as, for example, the Obba supported by two attendants. These 
well-known designs were carved on wooden plaques. A boy trained 
in this school carved a kneeling human figure (Plate XCIV, Fig. 5). 

Innate manual dexterity is present, but old forms of art cannot 
be revived in the absence of the religious ideas and ritual which 
formerly proved an incentive. In addition to this the old craftsmen 
formed guilds in which industrial technique was conserved and 
transmitted from father to son. But such guilds are either absent 
or they now lack their former pride and exclusiveness. 

Metal Work 

The casting of objects in brass was mentioned in connection 
with present-day industries of Benin, whose degenerated products 
of the lost-wax process, together with similar articles from Kano, 
form the stock-in-trade of many Hausa traders. 

Although beaten brass work is made at Old Calabar, perhaps 
Bida should be regarded as the principal center for this kind of work. 
The tools used are of a simple kind, including punches and files of 
native make fitted into wooden handles. The bellows consist of a 
hide bag having a tapering wooden nozzle, and a pumping arrange- 
ment made by alternately opening and closing two slats of wood at 
the wide end of the bag. According to Frobenius (III, Heft 1, 
Blatt 4) this type of bellows has a distribution over the whole of 
east Africa, Algeria, Morocco, and the western Sahara. 

The engraving tool is an iron instrument 8 cm. long, of slender 
construction, tapering to a point only 0.2 cm. across. With this 
implement and a small hammer for tapping it, objects of beaten 
brass are remarkably well decorated with punched designs of com- 
plicated but symmetrical geometrical figures. Brass is obtained in 
some measure from cartridge cases, but probably the greater quantity 
is bought from traders' stores. 

404 Culture Areas of Nigeria 

For making trays sheet brass is imported from Birmingham, 
England. Yet this importation does not render the craft unin- 
teresting, and the native designs are worth recording (Plate XCVIII, 
Figs. 1-7). The brass that was beaten for demonstration was cold; 
consequently, the work of the two smiths who hammered the metal 
was arduous. 

Brass artifacts of Nupe workmanship from Bida are readily 
classified into two groups; namely, articles made for native use, 
and those made for Europeans. Among the former may be mentioned 
brass-hilted arm daggers; in some examples the whole scabbard is 
of brass, which is well decorated with punched designs. A spouted 
vessel, somewhat like a coffee pot, is used by a servant who pours 
water over his master's hands before prayer. The receptacle for 
kola nuts, which are of considerable importance in hospitality and 
ritual, is an object of native conception and execution. Brass ladles 
appear to be an imitation in metal work of the gourd ladles ordinarily 
used. Brass instruments employed by Yoruba and other women 
when dressing one another's hair, are restricted to native use. 

Brass trays of various shapes and sizes are probably the most 
numerous of articles made for Europeans. Oval and round forms 
predominate, the depths vary considerably, and in some instances 
the descent from the edge of the tray to the bottom of the well is 
beaten out with great skill in three ledges. 

Punched designs comprising ovals, circles, floral motifs, and 
an overlapping pattern like a figure eight are all of excellent 
technique. The decorations show careful planning of the parts in 
relation to the area to be covered, and there is no confusion in the 
intricate overlapping designs. 

Brass bowls, each made from a single sheet of metal, are a special 
feature of the craft. Among these objects the octagonal bowls, with 
sides sharply demarcated, and of equal dimensions, are of exceptional 
merit. The making of brass needles in imitation of European forms 
is a modern development of the brass worker's art. Spouted vessels 
indicate a knowledge of soldering since they are made in four pieces 
which are later soldered together, after which the handle and spout 
are welded to the body. 

A study of iron-working in Nigeria raises problems of origin, 
diffusion of technique, and ritual, in connection with which an 
extensive bibliography exists, but unfortunately the question of 
origins, whether single or multiple, and the routes of diffusion has 
so far proved indeterminable. Smelting and working of iron may 

Industries 405 

have been indigenous to African Negroes, from whom a knowledge 
spread to the Nile Valley. But the contrary has been argued; 
namely, an origin in Egypt and a diffusion over the remainder of 
the African continent. The evidence of iron-working in various 
parts of Asia, and the introduction into Africa by the agency of 
Egyptians and Hamitic immigrants has likewise been considered. 
The claims of these theories may now be summarized. 

In western Asia are situated two districts where iron ores are 
found, and here may be seen the remains of an early iron-working 
industry. These areas are near the southeast of the Black Sea and the 
Taurus Mountains. It is recorded that Ashur-nasir-pal, 860 B.C., 
obtained iron ore in the neighborhood of Carchemish. In the ruins 
of the Palace of Sargon, dated 710 B.C., Victor Place found iron bars 
and finished articles such as chains and bits for horses. Since the 
manufacture of these articles implies considerable practice, there 
may be reason for assuming that the Assyrians were familiar with 
the forging of iron as early as 2000 B.C. 

- Metallurgy of iron was known in southern India by 1000 B.C. 
and at an earlier date in the Punjab. The smelting furnace used 
by hill tribes of the Ghats is analogous to prehistoric furnaces of the 
upper basin of the Danube. The furnace consists of a cylindrical 
shaft of clay with blast holes at the base, and smelting is accomplished 
by laying in this clay furnace alternate layers of iron ore and charcoal. 
This is also the African method (W. Gowland, pp. 281-282). 

. In Egypt iron was scarce up to 800 B.C. and to infer an early 
knowledge of working in iron because of the mere presence of iron 
objects in dynasty VI may be unwarranted. Iron was introduced 
into the south of Palestine about 1350 B.C. and furnaces were made 
about a hundred and fifty years later. Not until Coptic times in 
Egypt (a.d. 100-300) was there a free use of iron for making 
knives, chisels, hooks, hoes, and other objects of daily use (W. M. 
F. Petrie, p. 104, and Ancient Egypt, 1927, p. 5). 

Diffusion is simpler than independent invention. Africa is easily 
accessible from Asia, and immigrations into Africa by way of the 
Sinai peninsula have been frequent. Therefore there are grounds 
for favoring an Asiatic origin of the iron-working industry. But 
on the contrary, if one should agree with Luschan (II) that Negro 
tribes of Africa originated the iron industry, which then spread 
through Egyptian agency to Europe and Asia, one would have to 
admit the diffusion of a cultural trait running counter to known 
lines of racial movement, since immigration has been principally 

406 Culture Areas of Nigeria 

from Asia into northeast Africa. This may be possible, but usually 
a drift of traits is in the direction of human migration. 

In view of the evidence for an early Asiatic knowledge of iron- 
working, and the late appearance of the craft in Egypt, one might 
more reasonably ascribe the introduction of iron-working to Hamitic 
immigrants, but the objection is that these pastoral tribes despise 
handicrafts. The Hamitic theory suggests that iron-working may 
have spread in three main directions; namely, up the Nile Valley, 
down the east side of Africa, and westward across Africa over the 
open tract to the north of the Congo forests. Consideration of ritual 
in connection with the blacksmith's craft in Africa, combined with 
a comparative study of the tools and methods of smelting and 
forging, favors the idea of diffusion rather than independent origin 
in a number of African centers. 

If the late date at which iron was commonly manufactured and 
used in Egypt is taken as a criterion for the entry of the craft into 
Africa, there can be no difficulty on the grounds that the industry 
could not have diffused and developed to the high standard found 
by the first Europeans who entered Africa. 

One of the fundamental points in studying any diffusion is the 
usefulness of the particular trait under consideration, while another is 
the presence or absence of the raw materials needed for developing the 
trait. A diffusion of iron-working in Africa would naturally be 
hastened by the desirability of assimilating the new craft, which 
harmonized with human needs in general. Iron ore is accessible 
near the surface in many areas; moreover, frequent migrations of 
people have descended the eastern side of the continent and have 
crossed from east to west. 

The fact that Andrew Battell recorded a well-developed iron 
technique in northern Angola in the sixteenth century, and that 
Mungo Park described the iron smelting of Kamalia as a flourishing 
industry in 1795, does not preclude the possibility of a late introduc- 
tion of the blacksmith's craft into Africa. If iron-working were not 
known to Negroes until as late as the beginning of the Christian 
era, it is possible that the craft might have diffused over the whole 
African continent before European exploration among Negroes began. 

My inclination is toward a theory of Negro origin because of 
the innate industrial skill of the Negro. It is difficult to believe 
that the Negro, with his aptitude for art and handicraft, could 
have taken the most important branch of manual work from Hamites, 
who despise manual labor and treat blacksmiths as a submerged class. 

Industries 407 

In the discussion of this problem of the origin of the blacksmith's 
craft (W. Belck, I-IV) insufficient attention has been paid to the 
possibilities of independent invention. There is no reason why 
the Negro could not have made primary inventions, including the 
smelting of iron in a hole in the ground, and the use of a type of 
wooden bellows with two or four chambers, such as those now used 
in the Congo area. There is the possibility, however, that Asiatic 
intrusions brought a new type of conical or cylindrical furnace in 
which the ore is smelted in layers. And of non-Negro introduction 
may be the goatskin bag-bellows used in north Africa by the Tuareg 
of Asben and by some tribes of Nigeria. 

A point in favor of the independent origin of iron-working among 
Negroes is the nature of the ritual, and the similarity of rites in widely 
separated areas of Negro culture. If it is possible to believe that 
the Negro received his first knowledge of iron-working from pastoral 
Hamites of Asiatic extraction, either by way of the Nile Valley 
or some other route, to whom is he indebted for the ritual which is 
typically Negro in character? Separation of blacksmiths into closed 
guilds, initiation, taboos, and the entire setting of the craft is in 
keeping with the general psychology of Negro art and handicraft, 
which is described in Rattray's "Religion and Art in Ashanti." 

The presence of ritual and prohibition in connection with the 
blacksmith's craft is too well known to require corroboration by 
extensive quotation of references. Literature dealing with tribes 
south of the Sahara seldom fails to mention the special treatment 
accorded to workers in iron. Frequently the blacksmiths form a 
caste which does not intermarry with other people, and initiation 
ceremonies for apprentices are observed. Usually the language 
spoken by blacksmiths differs from that of surrounding people of 
the same tribe. Ritual centers in building the furnace, smelting the 
iron, and consecrating the tools. 

Among the Ovimbundu of Angola I recorded that a youth has 
to serve an apprenticeship of two years, at the end of which time he 
is made to stand on the anvil during a ceremony for the consecration 
of tools. All implements presented to the novice are made by the 
master blacksmith after they have been consecrated by killing a 
dog and chickens, whose blood is sprinkled on them (No. 2, this 
volume, 1934, pp. 158-161). 

In Nigeria evidence of ritual exists in connection with the black- 
smith's craft. At Ife I was taken to a sacred grove in which lie 
two large stones said to be the hammer and anvil of the first black- 

408 Culture Areas of Nigeria 

smith, Ogun, who is patron of the craft and at the same time is god 
of war. Over the anvil were stretched the remains of a dog which 
had been sacrificed to Ogun; I was informed that such a sacrifice 
is made twice a year (Plate CLV, Fig. 2). Sacrifice of a dog is the 
chief ritual act among the Ovimbundu, who kill the animal with 
the large hammer made by the master for presentation to his pupil; 
consequently, I found great difficulty in purchasing this tool. A. B. 
Ellis (p. 68) states that the usual sacrifice to Ogun is a dog, and a 
dog's head, which is emblematic of this sacrifice, is always to be 
seen fastened up in some conspicuous part of the workshop of a 

When among the Angas tribe near Pankshin I observed that 
the blacksmith's forge was not in use, and that the thatched hut 
which was open at the sides appeared to have been unoccupied for 
a long time. Inquiry shows that the craft in this locality is both 
seasonal and ceremonial (C. K. Meek, I, vol. I, p. 150). 

A Yoruba blacksmith at Iseyin worked in a large hut having 
six separate fires around each of which several workers were employed. 
The establishment was under the direction of a master blacksmith 
who had to be present before any of the tools might be sold. 

In this forge the anvil was a square-topped piece of iron provided 
with a point to be driven into the ground. There were hammers of 
two kinds, tongs, and fire-rakes. The manufactured objects included 
broad oval hoe-blades for hafting in wood, razors, and metal instru- 
ments used by women for hairdressing. The bellows were of a pattern 
having a distribution over a considerable part of the Congo region 
and Angola. Two connected wooden chambers terminated in a 
narrow wooden nozzle which led into a pipe of clay. Each of two 
long thin sticks was attached to the goat-hide covering of each of 
the wooden chambers. The sticks served as handles for pumping 
air to the fire with a vigorous up-and-down motion (Plates CI, 
Figs. 4, 8; CL, Fig. 2). 

A forge visited at Maiduguri was remarkable for the variety of 
its products. These included iron shackles, bits, and stirrups for 
horses; also scissors, tweezers, and iron needles. In addition to these 
articles the needs of agriculturists and craftsmen were not forgotten. 
The smith made socketed hoe blades into which wooden handles 
were fitted; curved and socketed knives for cutting grass; and ax- 
heads which could be reversed in their shafts so as to be used as 
adzes. From the Angas of Pankshin I obtained an iron tobacco pipe, 
52 cm. long, which had been made at a local forge. 

Industries 409 

Equipment for War and Hunting 

Of all weapons, swords and knives involve the greatest amount 
of skilled labor. The cross-hilted sword measuring a meter in length, 
and the short knife having a leather sheath and arm-band, have 
a wide distribution from the country of the Yoruba northward to 
Kano and Sokoto, and across the Sahara. Veiled Buzu of French 
Niger Territory invariably carry these weapons, which are also 
common along the eastern road from Kano to Lake Chad, thence 
across Africa through the eastern Sudan, and as far as the Hadendoa 
of the Red Sea Province. 

Among the industries of Bida the making of swords with silver 
scabbards is prominent. The weapon could be used since the edges 
are sharply ground, but the silver scabbards, which are ornamented 
with punched geometric designs and large, colored, woolen tassels, 
serve mainly as ceremonial equipment for wealthy men. In Kano 
market sword makers (Plate CXIV, Fig. 2) carry on their craft 
apart from the general work of the blacksmith's forge, but at 
Maiduguri ordinary blacksmiths of the market place were making 
well-tempered short knives for wearing on the arm. The blades 
are decorated with punched geometric designs of an elaborate kind, 
while the making of sheaths of red and white leather is part of the 
leather worker's occupation. These arm-daggers are extensively 
used by the Hausa, and by the Buduma of Lake Chad. 

The throwing-iron carried by men observed along the road from 
Kano to Maiduguri, and by the Buduma of Baya Seyarum, has a 
length of 85 cm. and is of the well-known Baghirmi type used to the 
south of Lake Chad. Passarge (p. 440) illustrates thirteen types 
of this weapon. The types of thro wing-knives and their distribution 
in Africa have formed the subject of several important articles quoted 
in the bibliography. E. S. Thomas has sketched the forms, discussed 
the line of evolution of one form from another, and mapped the dis- 
tribution of each type. The F-shaped knife which I acquired is 
said to be the most prevalent form among the tribes of the Shari 
region; it is found sparsely in Nubia and among some tribes of the 
White Nile. This F pattern is used as far north as Tibesti, and 
Thomas favors a Libyan origin. 

Experiments on deal boards prove that the weapon has remarkable 
cutting power, and it was no doubt effective when hurled at the 
fetlocks of a horse. Thomas states (p. 129) that the F-shaped knife 
should perhaps be regarded as an iron form of the throwing-stick. 
P. Germann deals in detail with the theory of the evolution of throw- 

410 Culture Areas of Nigeria 

ing-knives from wooden prototypes, and supports his thesis by 
illustrating forms of wooden throwing-clubs together with iron throw- 
ing-knives of like pattern occurring in the same areas. 

Only two examples of shields were collected. One shield of the 
type pictured by Meek (I, vol. I, p. 301, Fig. 83) was said by the 
donor, Mr. L. S. Price of Maiduguri, to be in use among the Gwozo, 
who live in the Mandara Hills to the south of Bornu. The photo- 
graph given by Meek indicates that this type of shield is used by the 
Borom of Bauchi Province. The shield, which is U-shaped, is 
covered with bosses made by indenting the inner side, which has a 
centrally placed wooden grip. Meek states that the shield is made 
from the ear of an elephant, a statement which the general shape 
of the weapon tends to corroborate. Passarge (p. 70) pictures the 
same object under the name of the Fullaschild as used in Adamaua. 

My photograph shows two Buduma men of Baya Seyarum 
fighting behind their large curved shields of ambach wood. The 
men approached from a distance stealthily, then rushed one upon 
the other jabbing over and round the sides of their shields. They 
parted in order to carry out this maneuver several times, then 
crouched facing each other (Plate CXLIII, Fig. 2). 

The Buduma shield is a large structure (85 x 93 cm.) but easily 
portable owing to the lightness of the wood. In the village of Baya 
Seyarum an old man was engaged in making shields, first soaking 
the planks in water then bending them while soft. He bored holes 
and used thin strips of hide to fasten the planks together. Pieces 
of black hide cut into diamond-shaped patterns were employed to 
ornament the outer surface, and an inside grip was made by strong, 
crossed cords made from papyrus-reed fiber. 

Use of muzzle-loading guns which natives purchase from traders' 
stores naturally cause bows and arrows to fall into desuetude. I 
did not see crossbows in use but they have been described by several 
writers (H. Balfour, II, and A. Moloney). The illustrations shown 
in these articles, if compared with those given by P. H. G. Powell- 
Cotton (Man, 1929, No. 1), support the generally accepted hypothesis 
of a European introduction of crossbows into west Africa, where 
similar forms can be observed in Nigeria, Cameroon, and French 
Equatorial Africa, especially in the region of the Ogowe River. 

The Angas of Pankshin use a wooden bow, round in cross section 
and bound with strips of snake skin. The bowstring was made of 
thin twisted hide. One end of the shaft was shouldered to prevent 
slipping of the cord and there was a simple slip loop for unstringing 

Industries 411 

the bow when not in use. The quiver used with this bow was made 
from a monocotyledonous wood which was ornamented with incised 
triangular patterns. The quiver held five tanged, barbed, poisoned, 
unfeathered arrows, each 52 cm. long. The nocks were rectangular 
and bound to prevent splitting of the shaft. The shaft of the arrow 
was a hollow reed into which the tang of the head was tightly bound 
with vegetable fiber. The number of barbs on the arrowheads 
varied from one to three, and these were always on one side only. 

From a Hausa in Sokoto a quiver of dark brown monocotyledon- 
ous wood was purchased. This wood is suitable for making quivers 
because of its nodal structure. The iron arrowheads are tanged 
into reed shafts and bound there. The points are thickly smeared 
with poison at the junctions of the head and the shaft. The arrow- 
heads are of a broad leaf shape with two downward barbs at the 
base of each. The round-shafted bow which is bound at intervals 
with antelope hide has a length of 131 cm. One end of the shaft 
is deeply nocked to prevent slipping of the loop, which can be easily 
removed to unstring the bow. In the market place at Maiduguri a 
blacksmith was making tanged arrowheads, which probably find a 
sale among the varied tribes seen in this large native market. 

A Hausa spear 175 cm. long was obtained at Sokoto. The iron 
head is socketed and elaborately barbed. Among the Buduma 
remarkably well-made socketed spearheads were obtainable, but 
these were not locally made; they were the work of an itinerant 
blacksmith. There were two main types: one flat, broad, and leaf- 
shaped; the other square in cross section and elaborately cut into 
a large number of small barbs. The flat spearhead was decorated 
with punched geometrical designs. Iron harpoon-heads, which are 
attached to wooden shafts by cords, are common among the Buduma. 
Some excellent examples of harpoons were also obtained from the 
Munshi of Katsina Ala (Plate CI, Figs. 6, 7). 

Oric Bates (Ancient Egyptian Fishing, Harvard African Studies, 
1, 1917, pp. 200-221) calls attention to forms of canoes and harpoons 
which may be prototypes of those used by the Buduma, though 
independent invention may have occurred. Bates refers to tomb 
paintings showing a hippopotamus being hunted with harpoons 
having detachable heads; such implements were also used for spear- 
ing fish. K. G. Lindblom's contribution (Jakt-Och Fangsmetoder, 
Stockholm, 1925, p. 33) pictures a harpoon used for killing crocodiles. 
This implement has a distribution which includes the Turkana, 
the Egyptians, the Shilluk, and the Buduma of Lake Chad. 

412 Culture Areas of Nigeria 

The papyrus-reed canoe of Lake Chad is made by lashing bundles 
of reeds together. Such a canoe was known in pre-dynastic Egypt 
(0. Bates, op. cit., pp. 219, 222) and the idea may have been diffused. 
But the need for easily constructed boats, combined with the presence 
of only one material well suited for the purpose, may have led to 
convergences of form in canoe types on the River Nile and Lake 
Chad. That such a convergence is possible may be seen by comparing 
the reed canoes of the Buduma with those on Lake Titicaca. There 
is likeness of form and construction, but the remoteness of the 
places and the absence of known connection makes independent origin 
of the canoes almost certain. 

The most interesting hunter's device observed was that of a 
Munshi near Ibi. This man placed on his head a model of the head 
of a hornbill, made from wood and covered with leather which was 
decorated with red beads. The hunter crawled on hands and knees, 
imitating the pecking of a bird; meanwhile he trailed his bow and 
arrows in his hands. Presumably the device is effective in long grass 
where only the head of the bird can be seen. Boyd Alexander noted 
this device (I, p. 32) but J. du Plessis, who traveled through the 
Munshi country, is skeptical. He says (Thrice through the Dark 
Continent, p. 72), "It is somewhat of a strain on our faith to be told 
that a well set up Munshi nearly six feet high can conceal himself 
under the plumage of a diminutive bird like the hornbill. It must 
be either a very gullible antelope or a very gullible reader that can 
be so easily deceived." My photograph (Plate CLI, Fig. 1) shows 
the method employed, and so corroborates the accuracy of Boyd 
Alexander's observation. Precisely the same decoy has been photo- 
graphed by G. Haardt at Dosso on the River Niger, six hundred miles 
from the Munshi country (National Geographic Magazine, XLIX, 
1926, p. 673). 

Spinning, Weaving, and Dyeing 

These industries were seen among the Yoruba population of 
Iseyin, Ogbomosho, and Ilorin, also at Kano in the hands of Hausa 

The history and technology of weaving have been described by 
W. M. F. Petrie (pp. 147-148) and by Ling Roth (V, pp. 113-150). 
Petrie states that, by the time of the first dynasty, weaving had 
become fine and regular, especially in the working of mummy 
wrappings. The coarser work was done on horizontal looms close to 
the ground, but fine work was executed on vertical looms. 

Industries 413 

The map prepared by Ling Roth (V, p. 150) shows the vertical 
mat loom to have a distribution all over Nigeria. For working on 
this loom, which is the most primitive of all the types, filament from 
the leaves of Raphia vinifera is used. The outer cuticle is removed, 
after which the lower fiber is cut into thin shreds by a leaf splitter 
made from strips of pointed cane. Small mats made in this way were 
obtained at Ibadan; the inwoven red and black triangles are very 
neatly executed (Plate C, Figs. 3, 6). The usual measurements of 
these mats are 35 x 21 cm. In the central and southwest Congo 
region the technique of mat-making has attained a high degree of 
refinement (T. A. Joyce, II, and J. Maes). 

The vertical cotton loom is shown by Ling Roth to occur in 
Nigeria at Abeokuta and Opobo, and across the Sahara into Algeria. 
The horizontal, narrow-band, treadle loom such as that used in 
Iseyin has a west African distribution from Gambia to Lake Chad. 
The tripod form of this loom occurs in Sierra Leone, and the Iseyin 
type is shown by Passarge (Adamaua, p. 85) to exist at Garua. 

Male weavers of Iseyin sat under a long shed, each at his hori- 
zontal loom, from which the warp stretched far away into the court- 
yard. The narrow strips woven in this way were green and white 
or blue and white in alternate bands. The breadth of each strip 
was 9 cm. Both the hands and the feet of the weaver are used to 
operate the loom. The feet move alternately on two pedals that 
open and close the threads of the warp. Meanwhile, in synchronism 
with this opening and closing of the warp, the weft is introduced 
by a shuttle which is passed laterally by hand. In the cloth pur- 
chased, strips about 9 cm. wide had been sewn together to make a 
piece 203 cm. wide (Plates CVII, CVIII). 

The loom worked by women is of a kind quite different from the 
men's loom on which the narrow strips are woven. The vertical 
loom for use by the women is set up near the entrance to an apart- 
ment within the house. The worker sits on the ground with her feet 
in a hole. The strips of cloth woven on this loom were about 48 cm. 
wide and these were later sewn together to form broad pieces of cloth. 

The horizontal, narrow-band, treadle loom used at Kano by an 
old man (Plate CXI, Fig. 1) appears to be the same as that pictured 
by C. K. Meek (I, vol. I, Fig. 62) in use by a male Jukun weaver of 
Muri Province. A large amount of cotton is native grown and 
ginning is performed by women, who roll the cotton on a block 
of wood. The iron rod used as the roller is 35 cm. long and 2 cm. 
thick in the middle, with considerable tapering at each end. 

414 Culture Areas of Nigeria 

For teasing out the fluffy cotton into a long thread, and winding 
this, several methods are available. At Maradi in French Niger 
Territory women held in one hand a stick passed through the mass 
of cotton. The thumb and forefinger of the other hand were used 
rapidly to draw out the thread and roll it, after which it was wound 
on a bobbin. Yoruba men at Iseyin had cotton thread in long rec- 
tangles on the ground. The operators walked up and down the lines 
of thread, which was wound by passing it through an iron loop at the 
end of a long stick. At Iseyin a different method was also in use; 
the operator worked by stretching the cotton between upright 
projections based on heavy blocks of wood. A third method noted 
at Iseyin is described by Meek (I, vol. I, p. 166, Fig. 58) who states 
that this is the Hausa technique, which is also practiced in India. 
The operator sits close to a conical framework of thin cane strips 
around which the thread is wound (Plates CVII, CVIII). 

In addition to weaving cotton on a loom, other methods of work 
are of importance. These methods include knotting, embroidery, 
and knitting. At Iseyin and elsewhere in Yoruba country strands 
of cotton are netted to form large, wide-meshed bags which are used 
for holding together the articles of a head-load. 

From a Hausa in Sokoto a portable knitting outfit was obtained. 
This consisted of two sticks kept in position with a cross-bar. The 
sticks were placed upright in a small bag containing purple yarn 
imported from Tripoli. Knitting is done by using a wooden needle 
to pass loops over the upright pieces of the framework. The Hausa 
name for this apparatus is sakan siliya (saka, to weave or make nets; 
siliya, silk cord). 

In the market place at Ogbomosho, and at Ilorin and Ibadan, 
balls of indigo were offered for sale. The making of these is an 
important industry for women, who gather the native plants. Dyeing 
in large jars was in progress at Iseyin, but at Kano the dye was in 
deep pits in the ground. At the former place both men and women 
were employed, but at Kano there was a preponderance of male 
dyers. The color is a deep indigo which is used for dyeing yarn or 
for coloring turbans and strips of cloth. At Kano two men were 
beating damp, dyed cloth over a log. In this way the shining blue 
turban rewani is made by pounding finely powdered malachite into 
the damp fabric (Plates CIX-CXI). 

Making of clothing for men and women is the work of males at 
both Kano and Ilorin, where complete outfits for men and women 
were purchased. The upper and exterior garment known as a riga 

Industries 415 

is often elaborately embroidered with colored silk; so also are the 
pants named wando. These wide trousers become narrow at the 
knees where they are richly ornamented with the green, red, and 
yellow silk. Despite the heat, heavy clothing is worn, and in some 
instances a man wears several unnecessary garments as an indication 
of wealth. 

Part of a man's clothing is a brown under-vest cut square, with 
a V-shaped neck having a decoration of yellow silk. Each kind of 
cloth has a distinguishing name. Thus blue cloth for winding 
round a woman's body is zane, her blue cloth with white stripes is 
mayafi, and her head cloth is fatala. In the market place at Kano 
men were decorating white caps by biting them to form ridged 
patterns in neat geometrical designs. These ridges were then stitched 
on the inside of the cap to make them permanent (Plates CXXXI, 

Mrs. V. W. Quigley, a teacher of weaving in Cleveland, Ohio, 
who examined several specimens of west African clothing, reports 
that the embroidery is made as follows: punch work, eyelet, chain 
stitch, and couching are commonly employed. Some patterns, which 
look like double buttonholing, are chain stitches sewn closely 
together. In some instances an overcasting stitch is placed round the 
edge of the fabric in such a way as to make a scallop. The over- 
casting stitch and the satin stitch are also used. So far as I know, 
the embroideries of west Africa have not been examined in such 
detail as to show the history and distribution of various types 
of work. Presumably some of the stitches are of European intro- 
duction, but possibly some of them are of far eastern origin and 
others may be of local invention. A "Dictionary of Embroidery 
Stitches" by M. Thomas, London, 1934, is of service in research 
connected with textiles and embroidery. 

Mrs. Quigley counted the number of warps and wefts to an inch 
in order to give some idea of the fineness of the work. On six fabrics 
from Ibadan and Kano the results of this counting are as follows: 

Number Number 

of fabric Warpe Wefts of fabric Warps Wefts 

1 . . (double) 11 56 4 90 28 

2 20 23 5 68 36 

3 128 30 6 46 20 

A quotation from W. M. F. Petrie (p. 147) gives figures for 
comparison: "On reaching the first dynasty the weaving is seen to 
be very fine and regular. The threads are very uniform, and there 
are 160 to the inch in the warp and 120 in the woof. Modern fine 

416 Culture Areas of Nigeria 

cambric has 140 threads to the inch." West African weaving is, 
according to these standards, somewhat coarse in texture. 

Study of the history and distribution of these occupations of 
spinning, weaving, and dyeing is assisted by reference to some of the 
older works of exploration. J. Matthews (p. 52) refers to the indigo 
of Sierra Leone, which is of a deep indelible blue. Evidently the 
industry of gathering plants and extracting the dye was older than 
the period of Matthews' visit, for he remarks on the remains of 
indigo works left by the Portuguese. The natives of Sierra Leone 
are said to have "the art of dyeing scarlet and black in the most 
effective manner." 

Matthews (p. 53) reports: "Cotton is cultivated by the natives 
but in no greater quantity than they can manufacture for themselves. 
There are several kinds of it which materially differ not only in 
quality but color; particularly three kinds, one perfectly white, one 
of a tawny or nankeen color, and one of a pale red or pink color." 

Mungo Park observes (p. 281) that women of the Mandingo 
tribes living along the route he followed from Gambia to Segu on 
the Niger, prepared cotton for spinning by laying it on a block of 
wood or on a smooth stone. They then exerted rolling pressure with 
a thick iron spindle to remove the seeds. The cotton yarn was 
afterwards spun with a distaff. The method of ginning observed 
by Park in 1796 was the same as that followed in Iseyin at present. 

Park reports that weaving was performed by men on small 
narrow looms having a web seldom more than four inches broad. 
Women dyed cloth a rich lasting blue with color made from leaves 
freshly gathered from the indigo plant. The leaves were pounded 
in a wooden mortar, then mixed with a strong lye in an earthen jar. 
The lye consisted of wood ashes to which urine was sometimes added. 
The cloth was steeped in this mixture until it acquired the desired 
color and a beautiful purple gloss. W. Bosman (p. 459) calls atten- 
tion to the skill of the people of Benin in making blue dye from locally 
grown indigo plants about the year 1700. R£ne" Caillie" (I, 359) 
describes the manufacture of indigo dye in Sierra Leone and else- 
where. H. Barth mentions the cultivation of indigo plants in 
Baghirmi and gives a list of villages most famous for the production 
of this dye (III, pp. 356-359). He notes the high quality of dyeing 
in Kano (II, p. 129). 

During his travels in Adamaua Passarge observed the use of 
indigo pits for dyeing (p. 82). He says that leaves and twigs are 
taken from plants which are cultivated. After the leaves and twigs 

Industries 417 

have been dried and pounded they are added to water. The dye is 
allowed to remain in the pit for twenty-four hours before use. Cloth 
is beaten over a log with wooden mallets like those used at Kano. 
Passarge (p. 84) gives an outline drawing of a loom and shuttle of 
the pattern observed at Iseyin. 

In describing his travels through Ashanti R. A. Freeman states 
(p. 223) that dye pits existed at Bontuku. Each pit consisted of a 
well five feet across, surrounded by a coping of sun-dried clay 
nearly three feet high. In the pits was a dark blue fluid having 
an iridescent scum which gave off an offensive odor when stirred. 
After the leaves had been pounded in large wooden mortars they were 
dried and pressed into balls six inches in diameter. The balls were 
burnt to ashes, which were then mixed with ashes of shea-butter 
trees and other plants. The fluid in the pits was not considered fit 
for use until it had been stirred and allowed to ferment for ten days. 
The colors obtained varied from a pale blue to a blue black, and 
these pigments were sometimes used for dyeing yarn before it was 
woven. Near Baya Seyarum on the western shore of Lake Chad, 
Boyd Alexander saw slaves picking the leaves of the creeping plant 
from which blue dye was made (II, p. 88). 

T. J. Alldridge, who reports on weaving and dyeing in Sierra 
Leone in 1910, gives information (pp. 244, 344, 353) which is in agree- 
ment with that supplied by Matthews in 1788. Indigo dye is still 
used for coloring native cloths which have served as currency for 
a long period. Alldridge states that growing of cotton by natives 
is ceasing because of the importation of colored yarns. 

The researches of B. Laufer (I, pp. 370-371) suggest that the 
vegetable commodity known as indigo originated in India. The 
word indigo is a "generalized commercial label for a blue dye-stuff, 
but without botanical value." 

In summarizing the evidence for the origin and diffusion of 
textile processes the conclusions of Ling Roth are important. At 
the end of extensive studies he states that the horizontal, narrow- 
band, treadle loom possibly came from Portugal. The distribution 
along the coast of west Africa and the hinterland supports this 
theory; moreover, this loom is not used in other parts of Africa. 
The vertical mat loom is thought by Ling Roth to be "possibly 
indigenous to the heart of Africa." The third form of loom, namely, 
the vertical cotton loom, is shown by Ling Roth to occur in Nigeria 
as already noted. The distribution passes in a narrow track across 
the Sahara, along north Africa, and into Egypt, which Ling Roth 

418 Culture Areas of Nigeria 

suggests as the place of origin. This distribution of the vertical 
cotton loom, as plotted by Ling Roth, when considered in conjunc- 
tion with the notes of Petrie on the existence of such a loom in pre- 
dynastic Egypt, lends support to the theory of an Egyptian origin. 
The other looms discussed by Ling Roth are not found in the area 
now under discussion. 

With regard to cotton ginning, spinning, weaving on the vertical 
cotton loom, and dyeing, the historical evidence strongly favors a 
single origin and wide diffusion rather than independent invention. 
The details of technique also support this view. 

Movements of people from the Mediterranean seaboard to 
northern Nigeria and the western Sudan, and along the whole area 
from Gambia to Lake Chad, have been continuous through warfare 
and trade. Moreover, the historical evidence made clear that for 
perhaps a thousand years great emporia of manufacture and trade 
have existed in west Africa, notably at Ghana, Timbuktu, Kano, 
Sokoto, Katsina, and in Bornu. On these focal points trade from 
the Mediterranean converged, and from such centers extended a 
southward distribution of traits that gradually penetrated the 
Negro culture of the southern forest regions. 


The market places of Ibadan and Ilorin display a great variety 
of baskets, mats, and other products of the plaiting industry in which 
fiber of palm leaves is used, and in addition to this material, grasses 
and millet stalks are utilized. Dyes are of native make. Black 
pigment is obtained by steeping fiber in black mud, washing it, 
then soaking it in a solution made from sorghum stalks. Yellow dye 
is made from ripe fruits of the Borassus palm. 

The Yoruba of Ilorin make coiled basketry in which each coil 
is from half an inch to two inches in diameter, and of loose foundation. 
The coils are usually bound together with strips of yellow, green, 
purple, and red bast in order to form checkered and triangular pat- 
terns. The form of the largest baskets is square or round, and their 
height frequently attains 70 cm. (Plate C, Fig. 5). 

Mat-making is also important. The colors and patterns are the 
same as those used for baskets and the size often reaches 180 x 200 
cm. Miscellaneous plaiting made and sold by the Yoruba includes 
small containers for salt, coarse baskets for straining the mush of 
yams, large covers for head-loads, sifters for meal of manioc, and 

Industries 419 

shallow round trays which are used on market booths for displaying 
small commodities. 

The Nupe of Bida specialize in plaiting large oval sleeping mats 
which are rolled to contain the personal baggage of native travelers; 
some of these mats are almost 200 cm. long and 100 cm. broad. 
Conical hats made from palm fiber are a noted product of the 
Nupe (Plate CXIII, Fig. 2). 

In the markets of Kano the products of Ilorin and Bida are seen 
for sale, and in addition to these many distinctive local manufactures 
flourish. Round baskets covered with as many as eight hundred 
cowrie shells are artistic and attractive. The baskets are made of 
small coils so tightly sewn as to make the weaving almost water- 
tight, and the stitching of the cowries is neatly done (Plate C, Fig. 2). 
A product of Kano is a specialized form of basketry decorated with 
colored leather stretched tightly over the outside of the basket. In 
some examples the basketry is ornamented with cowrie shells and 
leather work. Colored wools may be arranged in tassels which are 
sewn on the edges of the baskets. The booth of a basket maker is 
shown in Plate CXII, Figs. 1, 2. 

In the Hausa center of Sokoto mats are made by plaiting long 
strips of fiber then sewing them together with an iron needle. Large 
panniers are made by bending four pliant sticks into rounded arches. 
These form the sides of a basket which is then covered with hide. 

The finest weaving of basket trays is shown in some examples 
from Potiskum, though they were not made there, and their place 
of origin is doubtful. The Bolewa of Potiskum use a long oval 
basket of yellow fiber covered with a wide-meshed cotton netting 
for suspension. This is a container in which a bride takes her 
wardrobe to her new home. 

The most neatly made baskets, which are absolutely water-tight, 
are woven by the Buduma of Lake Chad. The general form of these 
baskets is oval with a narrowing toward the top, which is provided 
with a conical lid and a handle. There is a splitting of the stitching 
which 0. T. Mason describes as the furcate coil (Report, U. S. Nat. 
Mus., Washington, 1902, p. 244, Plate 23). The Buduma are skilled 
in weaving patterns in red and black fiber; these include conven- 
tionalized forms of men on horseback (Plate C, Fig. 1). Among the 
Buduma, and in Maiduguri, basket work of the Sara is in use. The 
distinguishing feature of these baskets is the employment of bright 
green, yellow, and red colors in the weaving. 

420 Culture Areas of Nigeria 

The most ancient African basketry which is datable is that of 
Egypt about the third millennium B.C. At this time shallow platters 
were made by sewing together coils of loose foundation; that is to 
say, each coil consists of many fine stalks of grass bound together. 
The probability that this Egyptian work is a prototype of modern 
African basketry is shown by M. Schmidal, after a detailed exami- 
nation of technique, including forms of stitches (Altagyptische 
Techniken an afrikanischen Spiralwulstkorben. Festschrift P. W. 
Schmidt, Vienna, 1928, pp. 645-654). 

Leather Work 

Working in leather may be regarded as a distinctive trait of the 
Northern Provinces if comparison is made between the manufactures 
of northern and southern Nigeria. Of leather-working in the south 
S. Johnson says (p. 120): "The Yoruba were formerly their own 
tanners and each one learned to prepare for himself whatever leather 
he wanted to use. Black, white, green, brown, and yellow are the 
prevailing colors but these materials are now largely imported from 
Hausaland, principally from Kano." 

The leather work of northern Nigeria is only a specialized local 
form of a trait which is found in northern Africa, across the Sahara, 
and through the western Sudan. The principal centers are Morocco, 
Hoggar, Agades, Timbuktu, Kano, Sokoto, Yola, Adamaua, and 

A. van Gennep has written a complete description of the styles 
of work, which are distinctive each for its own locality. He dis- 
tinguishes nine processes, including cutting, scratching, stamping, 
embroidering, and combinations of two or more of these techniques. 
The variety of styles calls attention to two points of importance in 
connection with handicrafts: firstly, the diversity of technique 
which artisans may develop when dealing with a tractable material; 
and secondly, the tendency for cultural foci to develop. Each center 
has its distinctive methods, though these local styles form but one 
cultural trait that has spread by diffusion over ancient trade routes. 

Leather work was of great excellence and antiquity in Egypt, 
and Petrie (pp. 147-150) states that the leather workers' craft was 
of great importance in Egypt in all ages. The two principal aspects 
of the technique were applique" work in colors, and the cutting of 
fine strips, both of which are well-known processes at the present 
time. The leather industry of Agades is today characterized by 
cutting a fine network of leather strips, and by removing portions 

Industries 421 

of the surface to form a pattern by contrast with those parts that 
are allowed to remain uncut. 

The leather industry did not escape the observation of Mungo 
Park (1795) who reports (p. 282) that "leather work is in the hands 
of specialists who travel. They can tan and dress leather with very 
great expedition by steeping the hide first in a mixture of wood- 
ashes and water until it parts with the hair, and afterwards using 
leaves of a tree as an astringent. They are at great pains to render 
the hide as soft and pliant as possible by rubbing it frequently between 
their hands and beating it upon a stone. Bullock hide is made into 
sandals, while sheep- and goatskins are used for making sheaths for 
swords and knives. Red dye is made from millet stalks, and yellow 
coloring is extracted from the roots of a plant." 

Of this industry at Agades Barth states that all leather work 
with the exception of saddles is carried on by women. Saddlebags 
are mentioned as being particularly well made, though Barth thinks 
that the work of Agades is surpassed by that of Timbuktu (I, p. 454). 
At Kano in the year 1850 sandals were the principal manufacture 
in leather, and today they are of great importance. Barth mentions 
that sandals were exported to great distances from Kano. He 
further notes the dyeing of tanned hides and their export across the 
Sahara to Tripoli (II, p. 130). The bags and cushions of Sokoto 
are very beautiful (IV, p. 180). At Timbuktu bags, cushions, and 
leather pouches were neatly made, especially by Tuareg women 
(V, p. 18). The industry thrives in that town today (Dupuis- 
Yakouba, II, pp. 61-78). 

Cutting sandals is one of the most ancient forms of leather 
work. In Egypt sandals were used as early as 3500 B.C., and by 
1500 B.C. they were the usual footware, which had to be removed 
in the presence of superiors. Removal of sandals is a mark of respect 
in north Africa at the present day. 

B. Meakin's description of tanning, dyeing, and making articles 
of leather in Moorish towns indicates that the technique of north 
Africa, the Sahara, and northern Nigeria is of a common origin from 
which local methods and styles have evolved. The black dye used 
in Morocco is made from indigo, gall, and sulphate of iron, the mix- 
ture employed at Kano today. J. Buttikofer's colored pictures of 
Liberian leather work show it to be the same kind as types already 
mentioned (II, Plates XXVI, XXVII, pp. 277-279). 

The best collection of leather work, including sandals, was made 
in Kano, and although foreign contacts have stimulated the manu- 

422 Culture Areas of Nigeria 

facture of cushions and bags for Europeans, the tanning, dyeing, 
and ornamenting of these are native industries which are still carried 
out in the old-time way. A series of tools together with sandals at 
all stages of manufacture (Field Museum, Hall D) illustrates this 
ancient and well-developed technique. 

The principal tools were a scraper, a small, sharp knife, and an 
awl, which are products of a native forge. Before beginning work 
the sandal maker selected paper patterns according to which he 
cut out the bases of the sandals in oxhide. Over the thick soles 
thin red leather was first pasted, then sewn by hand. An awl was 
used during the sewing process, and a small knife was used for 
cutting out the ankle straps in thin red, and yellow leather. 

Among a number of miscellaneous objects made by the leather 
workers of Kano are tobacco horns covered with red leather; leather 
pouches for carrying a barber's outfit consisting of bleeding cups, 
tweezers, and razors; also covers for loose leaves of the Koran. 
The making of charms encased in leather appears to be in the hands 
of specialists, one of whom was seen at work in Mongonu near Lake 
Chad. In addition to the usual flat pouches containing extracts 
from the Koran the artisan encased pointed pieces of wood in red 
leather as charms against snake-bite. 

I was able to obtain in Kano a few round ottoman covers made 
in Agades. One side was plain red without any kind of decoration, 
while the other side was finely cut into strips forming triangular 
patterns. The excision of parts of the surface leather, while leaving 
other parts uncut, is cleverly done so as to form checkered designs. 
At Maiduguri strips of hide were twisted to form hobbles for camels 
and horses, and along with these there was a sale for leather buckets 
which are used for lowering into wells. Cutting long tapering whips 
from hide was the work of a Buduma specialist at Baya Seyarum. 

The only people observed with leather clothing were males of 
the Keri-Keri at Potiskum, and some Gwozo hill men in the market 
at Maiduguri. The latter wore caps and loin coverings of undressed 
hide (Plates CXXVII, CXXIX, Fig. 1). The Angas women of 
Pankshin carried young babies in rawhide pouches on their backs. 

On sale in Kano, Sokoto, and as far south as Ibadan are skin 
bottles having the outside covered with natural hair while the inside 
is smooth. C. K. Meek (I, vol. I, p. 161) gives the following descrip- 
tion of these skin vessels: "A clay mould of the shape required is 
first made. The worker then takes a piece of hide which has been 
soaked in water and shaves off the hairy outer covering, using for 

Industries 423 

this purpose a knife with a crescent-shaped blade. The moist inner 
skin is then cut into a series of thin strips, and with these the mould 
is encircled. These strips knit together when left to dry in the sun, 
and the mould inside is removed by being gently tapped with a 
piece of bone until it breaks. Skin vessels made of strips of skin 
in this way will open up if exposed to wet. They are usually decorated 
on the outside with strips of hairy hide." This kind of work has 
recently been described and illustrated by F. de Zeltner (II, 1932, 
pp. 23-34) and by H. Balfour (VII). 

The smallest of these vessels, not more than 7 cm. long, are made 
for holding powdered malachite, which is used by women for darken- 
ing their eyelashes and eyelids. Vessels a little larger are used as 
snuff containers. The largest receptacle of this kind in Field Museum 
collection was obtained at Maradi in French Niger Territory. The 
height is about 70 cm. Around the top of the vessel are three small 
receptacles for condiments, while the larger container is used for 
holding butter or honey (Plate XCVII, Fig. 1). 

Such a container is made and used by the Tuareg of Asben (F. R. 
Rodd, Plate XXIV, Fig. 9). A. van Gennep (II, vol. II, Plate I, 
Fig. 5) pictures a pottery vessel of the kind, made of skin, obtained 
at Maradi. The correspondence is exact even to the three small cups 
at the top of the large vessel. This pottery vessel was obtained by 
van Gennep at Beni Daula, Algeria. It is made of red earth which 
is decorated with black and red designs. The whole surface has 
been covered with a slip of resin that has turned yellow after burning. 
This is not a mold, for according to Meek the mold is broken, which 
must necessarily be the procedure in order to remove it. 

Presumably the pottery vessel pictured by van Gennep is the 
prototype which later suggested the idea of making the same form 
in skin by molding this material over the earthenware. This is an 
instructive example of the transference of design and technique 
from one medium to another. An account of Nigerian leather work 
and the manufacture of dyes from indigenous plants is given by 
C. K. Meek (I, vol. I, pp. 160-163). 


Pottery is still made generally throughout the Northern and 
Southern Provinces of Nigeria, but C. K. Meek and P. A. Talbot 
are agreed on the decadence of manufacture and design when modern 
examples are compared with those of a former period whose date is 

424 Culture Areas of Nigeria 

unknown. Although this is true, there yet remain several centers 
remarkable for the abundance of locally made pots showing great 
variety of shape, and decoration with slips of several colors. 

At Ogbomosho pottery-making was carried out by elderly 
women whose work was distinguished by size, strength, and sym- 
metry, rather than decorative effect. Some of the pots were half an 
inch thick and three feet high, and without decoration except for 
a polished, reddened rim. The methods of firing, first by hardening 
the pots by lighting fires within them, and later by baking in a large 
kiln of grass, likewise the process of applying a slip and polishing 
with a stone, are shown in Plates CI 1 1 and CIV. 

The market place of Ilorin presented two main classes of ware 
having similar forms produced in each of the colors, red and black, 
which are native-made pigments applied as thin slips after baking. 
In addition to large coarse pots for storing grain, a great variety of 
pots and dishes for palm-oil stew was displayed. Large, rounded, 
perforated pots were said to be used for drying and smoking meat. 
These were coarsely made without polish or decoration. 

Large circular bowls with lids were black in color and 
highly polished. On a surface of this kind scratched, geometrical 
patterns showed distinctly. Some of the vessels were ornamented 
when soft by pressing around them a cord that left symmetrical 
designs on the wet clay. 

Lamps were of three distinct forms, which were produced in both 
the red and black ware, and the market place at Ilorin presented 
a remarkable sight when hundreds of these lamps were lit. In 
each form of lamp is a receptacle for oil, from which reservoir the 
wick hangs over the edge of the lamp. These lamps show an Egyptian 
and Mediterranean influence. Among the black pottery were small 
vessels for ink which is used by mallams when writing Koranic texts 
on smooth boards (Plates XCV, Figs. 4, 5; XCVI, Figs. 4, 6). 

The Yoruba near Ilorin make one variety of pottery that is dis- 
tinct in style from all others, and I know of nothing resembling it 
except examples from north Africa. Three vessels of unusual merit 
were a round long-necked water cooler having a handle; a water 
cooler with a handle, spout, and stoppered opening; and a short, 
round form of the second example. The vessels are made of a light 
brown, micaceous clay, ornamented with a red slip painted in designs 
which include geometrical patterns and human figures (Plate XCVI, 
Figs. 1, 2). 

Industries 425 

Near the market place at Kano the making of pottery was ob- 
served. The female potter, who made use of the punching and coiling 
process, relied for molding on the use of a stone pounder with a hand- 
grip, a flat piece of board, and her hands. The three stages of the 
work, from the first punching of the mass of clay to the firing, are 
shown on Plates CV and CVI. The products of the potter's craft 
at Kano were remarkable for the glittering micaceous clay that was 
used. I was taken a few miles from the potter's home to a dry, 
shallow water-course, whose bed seemed to be largely composed 
of this material, which occurs only locally. The largest vessels 
made at Kano were water jars 71 cm. high, each of which was built 
up in three sections. The base was punched to shape and allowed 
to dry, then a middle section was coiled and molded. When this 
was dry a third and final section was coiled and pressed into the 
form of a neck. Ornament was added by pressing a cord on the 
wet clay. 

In Sokoto market place were several distinct kinds of pottery, 
all of which were of local manufacture and distribution. Round 
water pots on clay pedestals are peculiar, not only in form but in 
the method of decoration. Round the rim of the pot a broad area 
is marked into diamond-shaped triangular patterns which are painted 
with vivid colors including red, white, green, and yellow. 

Water jars and clay jugs with handles are made in Sokoto from 
micaceous clay which is bright yellow before baking, but a dull 
bronze color after firing. The most peculiar vessels are jugs con- 
stricted by deep grooves extending around the middle (Plate XCV, 
Fig. 2). Minor products of the potter's art at Sokoto are clay camels 
conventionally made with three legs; small dolls; and tobacco pipes. 

The potter's art at Sokoto has been described in detail by W. E. 
Nicholson (I). The chief potters are the Adarawa of Berber extrac- 
tion, whose country is north of Sokoto, and the Zorumawa, a people 
of hybrid extraction physically related to the Fulani and Mandingo. 
Owing to a trade convention, and not because of religious taboo, 
certain articles are made by men and others by women only. 
Nicholson gives a detailed account of the technique comprising four 
stages of building, and from this account the process appears to be 
almost identical with the one seen at Kano. Other articles describing 
Nigerian pottery are to be found in the writings of N. W. Thomas 
(I) and A. J. N. Tremearne (I). Outside of Egypt the potter's 
wheel is not used in Africa with the exception of an occasional 
occurrence along the northern coast. 

426 Culture Areas of Nigeria 

Consideration of old types of pottery obtained from the Bolewa 
of Potiskum lends further support to the statement that technique 
is declining, for undoubtedly the old forms are better than the new 
in design and execution. A large jug and round pots for beer are 
the finest examples of old work (Plate XCV, Figs. 1, 3). The pots, 
which are black inside and red outside, have been polished both 
internally and externally. Decoration has been added by scratching 
straight lines, triangles, and lozenge-shaped patterns after burning; 
these incisions have been filled with white clay. One special develop- 
ment of the potter's art at Potiskum is the making of drain pipes 
for roofs of houses. The whole surface of the pipe is covered with 
a red slip on which patterns are painted in white. The paint used 
appears to be a kind of gypsum. 

Near Medowa, in French Niger Territory, native pottery bears 
no resemblance to that of the neighboring towns of Sokoto and 
Kano in Nigeria. In the region of Medowa large jars for water and 
round cups with handles are made of coarse red clay, which is un- 
smoothed, unpolished, and without incised decorations. The whole 
surface of the large water jars is covered with alternate bands of 
white and brown on which zigzag lines are crudely painted. The 
height of these vessels is 63 cm. The smaller vessels are slightly 
ornamented, each with a band of purple stain which is made from 
a ferruginous earth. A stain similar in color is used for ornamenting 
the necks of the pots made at Sokoto, but apart from this decoration 
the types of pottery from Sokoto and adjacent French territory 
are distinct. 

The pottery from Sokoto is highly specialized in form, color, and 
decorations, while that from French Niger Territory is extremely 
crude. Probably the explanation is to be found in the fact that 
potters of Medowa lacked suitable clay. Examination of their work 
shows that the earth used has been liberally mixed with coarse 
chaff as a binding substance, and even with this aid the material 
is friable. 

Wood-carving, Gourds, and Musical Instruments 

The Yoruba and Bini were formerly noted for their wood-carving, 
which now shows great decline in technique, though several classes 
of objects are still worth acquiring. At Benin a few human figures 
and plaques are carved under the direction of the Obba at the craft's 
school. The few modern examples obtained prove that the ancient 
ability is not yet defunct. 

Industries 427 

From the compound of the Bologun (war chief) of Ilorin two 
wooden posts were obtained. Each of the chief's drummers regards 
a post of this kind as his own emblem and he stands before the post 
when playing on public occasions. One of the posts is carved in 
imitation of the links of a chain. 

At Ife two carefully carved wooden masks and one wooden effigy 
were purchased. These are valuable because of their ritualistic 
significance for they are worn at the Egungun festival, when masked, 
robed figures parade the streets, purporting to be deceased persons 
of importance. One of the masks (Plate CII, Fig. 2) represents 
Jogbo, a small man who had a reputation for skill in spear-throwing. 
Details such as scarification on his cheeks and ornamentation on 
his cap are clearly shown. The figure of Elebiti, who was a warrior 
and magician, is carved in a seated position (Plate XCIV, Fig. 4). 
On his head he carries the sacred symbol of a ram's horns. A wooden 
mask represents Fopo (Plate CII, Fig. 1), who had the reputation 
of being a successful warrior and a harsh man. His idea of humor 
was expressed by entering the market place, where he amused 
himself by mixing the contents of food baskets. 

Among the minor products of the wood-carver's art are wooden 
dolls, hair combs, and spoons, all of which are crudely made. 

Nupe artisans of Bida are distinguished by the carving of wooden 
stools showing great originality of style, which is unlike any other 
carving in Africa. The worker uses only two tools, an adze for hack- 
ing out the form from a rough block of wood, and a small knife 
for carving geometrical patterns on the top (Plate XCIV, Figs. 1, 3). 
The stools vary in size from a height of 18 to 52 cm., and the number 
of legs ranges from four to eleven. Some of the stools are square, 
others round, but in no instance is there any joinery; all work is 
done by cutting from a block. Each leg tapers from the top to the 
bottom, and in the round stool with eleven symmetrically carved 
legs there is evidence of considerable control of a hard material. 
This hard wood is sometimes intractable because of the occurrence 
of knots and other flaws. 

The geometrical patterns with which the tops of stools are carved 
indicate that the worker had a clear design and a correct knowledge 
of the way in which parts of a design should overlap. Apart from 
the stools, which illustrate the development of a unique technique 
in one industrial center, the wood-carving of Bida is not of exceptional 
merit. The creation of local types of industry is aptly illustrated 
by comparative study of wooden stools of the Ivory Coast, Ashanti, 

428 Culture Areas of Nigeria 

Nigeria, Bamenda in Cameroon, and the regions of the southwest 
Congo and central Angola. And within Nigeria itself are many 
local patterns. 

Round wooden bowls of hard black material, carved on the out- 
side and smooth inside, are made near Potiskum by one man only. 
No examples of this kind were seen elsewhere, and the instance 
appears to be a creation of technique by one person. The carving 
on these food bowls is remarkably well executed, and division of 
the whole surface to accommodate the designs indicates precise 
coordination of hand and eye (Plate XCIII, Fig. 3). 

Ceremonial paddles carved by the Jekri were obtained near 
Sapele, and one of antiquity and artistic merit was purchased from 
the leader of a troupe of Ibo dancers at Onitsha (Plate CI, Figs. 1, 9). 
The ornamental paddle is used as a baton for controlling move- 
ment and rhythm. Patterns on the paddles of the Jekri are chiefly 
geometrical but the crocodile is often represented. H. Balfour (V) 
calls attention to a ceremonial paddle having a figure representing 
the hippopotamus spirit, and there is a probability that the object 
formed part of the cult equipment of a sacred serpent. 

From Zinder in French Niger Territory a wooden snake carved 
in hard black wood was obtained. Spots on the reptile are made 
with inlaid ivory, while the fangs are of the same material. Serpent 
cults and beliefs have had a great stronghold in southern Nigeria 
and many survivals of these ancient ideas occur in both the Southern 
and Northern Provinces, but the origin and use of this serpent are 
unknown at the present day. 

Wooden sandals three inches high, decorated with burnt patterns, 
were obtained from the women of the Buduma, and the Shuwa 
Arabs. The former live at Baya Seyarum, on the shore of Lake 
Chad, and the latter at Maiduguri (Plate XCIV, Fig. 7). 

Cutting and staining gourds (Plate XCIII) is probably the 
most artistic branch of the carver's art, which is usually found in 
the hands of a male specialist. In each district occur one or more 
types of gourd decoration which have only a restricted distribution. 
These distinctive techniques again illustrate the tendency toward 
local developments that do not diffuse far outside the areas of their 
origin. In addition to the variety of colors, including indigo, red, 
and yellow, there are distinct methods of cutting and burning. These 
processes afford illustration of the variety of products that result 
from local ingenuity. 

Industries 429 

Yoruba workers of Ogbomosho devote most of their time to 
the production of gourd receptacles which are made by bisecting 
a round fruit so that the upper half forms a lid for the lower. The 
brown outer surface of the gourd is scraped away, leaving a white 
surface which is decorated with deeply incised patterns of geometrical 
figures. A second technique involves no cutting of patterns, but 
these are made prominent by scraping away the brown surface of 
the gourd in such a way that the remaining cuticle forms symmetrical 
designs. Ladles and spoons are made by cutting long-necked gourds 
lengthwise into two equal parts; the tool used is a saw of native 
make. In addition to this tool, the carver uses a small adze and 
three knives of different sizes and curvatures (Plate CI, Figs. 3, 5). 

In the town of Bida, where people of the Nupe tribe predominate, 
there are three distinct processes producing ornamented types of 
gourds that are not found elsewhere. The most attractive of these 
methods depends on an initial staining of the entire surface of the 
gourd with indigo. When the coloring is dry the worker deeply 
carves geometrical patterns which stand out boldly in white on the 
blue background. The same process is followed with gourds which 
are stained red before the incisions are made. A third technique 
retains the yellow surface of the gourd, on which patterns are burned. 

Hausa workers of Sokoto use tools that were not observed in 
other centers. One of these is an iron hook at the end of a long wooden 
handle; this tool is used for scraping out the contents of a long narrow 
gourd. The other implements are a curved knife and a double- 
edged saw (Plate CI, Figs. 2, 3, 5). The principal technique is a 
staining of the gourd with red coloring before the patterns are carved. 
A feature of Hausa work in Kano is the making of long narrow gourds 
into which henna stain is poured. Women wear such gourds on their 
arms so that their finger nails dip into the stain. The entire outer 
surface of the gourd is finely carved with geometrical designs colored 
red, green, and purple. 

In the market of Maiduguri the three processes just noted are 
employed, though the final products are distinctive. One effective 
method consists of reddening the entire surface of the gourd, then 
rubbing and scraping away parts of the red coloring so that the 
original yellow surface stands out as patterns on a red background. 
Other processes are the burning of finely incised lines and the burning 
of surface designs without any preliminary cutting. The most 
artistic effect is produced by incising the lines closely together and 
then burning them carefully ((Plate XCIII, Figs. 4, 5). 

430 Culture Areas of Nigeria 

After examining Nigerian calabashes from an esthetic point of 
view, Miss Conover, of the Art Institute, Chicago, said, "The 
calabash designs are bold and startling in their effect. Spontaneity 
and freedom are their dominating characteristics. The lines 
employed analyze into the simplest of basic structures, as if nature 
herself grew painted and carved calabashes." 

The art of making musical instruments is closely connected with 
wood-carving and the decoration of gourds. The algaita is a trumpet- 
like instrument which may be seen in everyday use at Ilorin, Kano, 
Sokoto, and Maiduguri. The body of the instrument is of wood 
covered with hide. The mouthpiece is of brass, and there are four 
stop holes. Among the Yoruba of Ibadan and Ilorin this instrument 
is played by a musician, who is accompanied by a drummer 
using a drum of hourglass form decorated with brass ornaments. 
The drum is played with a curved wooden stick (Plate CXLIX, 
Fig. 2). The Yoruba name for such a drum is bembe. 

The largest collection of musical instruments was made at 
Maiduguri where a single orchestra used the following instruments 
(Plate XCVII, Figs. 2, 3, 5): 

(1) An oval gourd rattle containing seeds. 

(2) Stringed musical instruments made from round calabashes 
to which long wooden handles are attached. The calabashes are 
ornamented either by burning designs, or by covering the gourd 
with snake skin. Cowrie shells are also used with decorative effect. 
Usually such an instrument has two strings of coarse black hair, 
probably from the tail of a horse. A small wooden bow, also strung 
with hair, is used for rubbing the strings of the instrument. 

(3) A small barrel-shaped drum 43 cm. long has a membrane 
at each end. This instrument is struck with a curved stick. 

(4) A rounded pottery drum, made from an earthenware pot 22 
cm. high and 16 cm. broad, has a skin top that the performer taps 
with his fingers. 

At Maiduguri traveling bands of musicians included female 
performers who beat time with wooden clappers. Pottery drums 
were used, and the two principal male dancers wore heavy, iron, 
ankle rattles. In the market at Maiduguri a long, narrow gourd 
71 x 8 cm., ornamented with burnt patterns, is sold. The use of 
this is not obvious, but a demonstration shows that it is used to 
produce a booming sound. The female performer sat cross-legged, 
placed one hand over the upper end intermittently, and tapped the 
other end of the instrument on the inner side of her thigh. The 

Industries 431 

form of the instrument suggests a trumpet but this appearance is 
quite misleading. 

The instruments garayah and a similar form molo (Plate XCVII, 
Fig. 4) have a wide distribution in northern Nigeria and French 
Niger Territory. The body of the instrument is a small, oval gourd 
covered with hide, and to this sound-box a wooden handle is attached. 
The two strings are made of horsehair. In the market at Sokoto 
an itinerant musician was seen with an iron hoop 35 cm. in diameter 
on which some jingling iron rings were fastened. A small ring was 
used for striking the larger ring (Plate CLII, Fig. 2). 

Fulani musicians near Pankshin played small drums of the hour- 
glass pattern. These were held under the arms of the performers, 
who struck them with curved drumsticks. The Munshi of Katsina 
Ala had the hourglass drum, a cylindrical wooden drum with a 
tympanum at each end, and the stringed instrument molo. 

The Angas tribe near Pankshin used the following musical 
instruments (Plate CXXX, Figs. 1, 2): 

(1) A rectangular baseboard of reeds, from the outer cuticle of 
which thin strips had been cut, but not severed, so as to form rattan 
strings that were elevated on bridges. Each of the rattan strings 
had a binding of fiber in the middle of its length. The amount 
of fiber used on the string was not the same in each instance; conse- 
quently, some strings were thicker than others, with a resultant 
difference in the frequency of vibration when plucked. Those strings 
which were thickly bound with fiber produced the low notes. In 
the baseboard one soundless reed was inserted between each set 
of three musical reeds. C. K. Meek (I, vol. II, p. 158) says that this 
instrument is found in many parts of the world and is probably 
Malayan in origin. 

(2) Two reed pipes which were bound together and blown by 

(3) Curved horns 36 cm. in length which were held sideways 
while blown through oval apertures cut for that purpose. 

(4) Heavy iron leg rattles which were used during dancing. 

(5) Two drums that were played in unison while lying on their 
sides. The larger of these had been hewn from a single block of wood 
so as to produce a barrel-shaped body standing on three legs. Over 
the round opening at the top of the instrument a membrane was 
pegged. The smaller instrument was made in the same way. In 
the hills near Pankshin was a hut in which several of the larger drums 

432 Culture Areas of Nigeria 

were seen. These were not purchasable because they were regarded 
as sacred objects into which the spirits of dead chiefs entered on 
ceremonial occasions. This is but one of many instances of the 
sacredness of drums in African tribal life, and as Rattray has shown 
in detail (III, IV passim) sacred drums are among the most im- 
portant cult objects used in Ashanti worship of ancestors. In fact, 
sacred drums which are temporary shrines, also drum-houses, are 
known from Sierra Leone to Uganda. Musicians interested in the 
technique, the history, and the social and magical significance of 
instruments, will find a valuable contribution to this subject by 
P. G. Harris (III). 

Personal Ornaments 

Important among skilled crafts is the manufacture of beads at 
Ilorin by the Yoruba, whose methods and materials were studied. 
The most essential part of the equipment is a large slab of marble- 
like stone measuring 52 x 31 x 2 cm. This slab is worn into deep 
crescentic grooves owing to the continual rubbing of the hard stone 
beads. Slender iron punches about 6 cm. long are used in conjunc- 
tion with a small, flat hammer. The processes are chipping the beads 
to the approximate shape, drilling, and rubbing to shape on the stone 
slab. Cylindrical beads having a length of 4 cm. and a diameter 
of 1 cm. are the best examples of this craft. The Hausa word for 
such beads is lentana; the Yoruba name is ileke. 

In addition to these long cylindrical beads, short, thick, barrel- 
shaped beads are made, and less commonly triangular ornaments 
for necklaces are rubbed down and perforated at the apex. The 
drilling of long beads is carried out while the stone is still rough; 
consequently, it can be held firmly between the great toe and the next. 
The fine drill, after being dipped in palm oil, is tapped repeatedly 
with the hammer; meanwhile it is revolved between the operator's 
thumb and finger. 

One ornament used by the Yoruba consists of a collar made of a 
large number of strong black hairs, probably from the manes and 
tails of horses. Two black leather tips are formed as button and 
buttonhole, respectively. For women there are long belts made 
from the hard exteriors of oil-palm nuts. Each disk is rounded, 
perforated, and smoothed by rubbing on a stone covered with sand 
and water. Such a belt of almost a meter in length is worn next 
to the body. 

At Bida a company of glass workers forms an exclusive guild 
which has existed there since the year 1850, though the origin and 

Industries 433 

history of the trade is not known. At the present day beads and 
glass bangles are made by melting bottles and imported beads. The 
craft may have had an Egyptian origin, since cultural and racial 
drifts have originated from the direction of the Nile Valley. Yet, 
Meek's statement (I, vol. I, p. 160) that "the Egyptians knew how 
to make glass by at least 3500 B.C." is questionable. Petrie says 
(p. 119) that there has been much misunderstanding about the age 
of glass in Egypt. No blown glass is known in Egypt before Roman 
times and "there does not appear to have been any working of 
glassy material by itself, apart from a base of stone or pottery, until 
after 1600 B.C." But even a much later date than 1600 B.C. would 
give ample time for the establishment of the glass-workers' craft in 
Nigeria as a result of Egyptian influences. Yet there is no reason 
to assume great antiquity for the craft at Bida, and it may have 
arrived from north Africa in the last century. 

At one time I was under the impression that glass-working was 
carried on at Bida only. This may have been so for many years, and 
the occurrence of glass-making at Bontuku in Ashanti may perhaps 
be regarded as a diffusion of a cultural trait from Bida, notwith- 
standing the secrecy of the glass-workers' guild. On the contrary, 
the craft may have traveled from Bontuku to Bida, or the two 
centers may have derived their craft from a common source which 
is now no longer functioning. But however this may be, the descrip- 
tion of glass-making given by R. A. Freeman (p. 229) agrees so well 
with my notes made at Bida, and with the account of Meek (I, vol. I, 
p. 158), that a connection between the two centers can be assumed. 

Freeman's account states that the glass workers carry on their 
occupation in a dark hut having a furnace in a large water jar 
buried in the floor with its mouth at ground level. The bellows, 
tongs, and thin iron rods for manipulating the glowing mass of glass 
are of the same type as those used at Bida, but the furnace at Bida 
is built in the form of a clay cone standing above floor level. At 
Bida white beads from European sources are melted and drawn 
out into thin wisps of glass which are added to the molten mass of 
bottle glass. When the bangles and beads are completed they clearly 
show streaks of white on the blue or green background. Freeman 
says that at Bontuku the mass of hot glass is rolled on white beads, 
which then melt. 

The tools purchased at Bida are tongs that are quite different 
from those used by brass workers and blacksmiths; a file of native 
make for trimming the rough edges of glass; iron rods on whose ends 

434 Culture Areas of Nigeria 

the mass of viscid glass is twisted; an implement with a flat iron 
blade and a wooden handle, for rounding glass bangles; and scales 
in which glass is balanced with a counterpoise of stone. 

Carefully made stone arm-rings of greenish color are worn by 
the veiled Buzu of French Niger Territory. Such ornaments are 
purchasable in Kano, but I have not seen them south of that area. 
One example obtained in Kano had been repaired with small metal 
rivets. F. R. Rodd (p. 285) gives information respecting armlets 
and other personal ornaments of the Tuareg of Air. 

In Air stone arm-rings are of two types, the cylindrical and the 
flattened. The second type is more important because of the 
traditional significance attached to the number of rings worn and 
their position on the arms. These rings are first worn when a sword 
is adopted in early manhood. Boys and women are not allowed 
to wear arm-rings. The rings are cut by hand, without a lathe, 
from a lump of stone about an inch thick. The rough ring is smoothed 
and worn down with rasps and files, then finally cleaned with sand 
and water. At the completion of this process the rings are dipped 
in fat and baked to give the slightly porous stone a deep black color 
and a polished surface. The flat rings, which taper from the inner 
to the outer aspect, are passed from father to son. They are often 
riveted with brass plates if they happen to be broken, and in some 
instances the rings bear a name written in Tifinagh. 

Making of stone arm-rings is an ancient African process which 
was known in predynastic Egypt. Of the Egyptian technique 
Petrie says (p. 81), "Flint armlets were made, chipped out of a solid 
block, yet no thicker than a straw. Finally these were ground with 
emery to smooth them for wearing." 

Among archaeological finds from Kordofan H. A. MacMichael 
(I, Plate XIX) shows stone rings of unknown ages which suggest 
Egyptian influence. Stone armlets are worn by most of the natives 
of the Northern Territory of Ashanti. These ornaments, according 
to A. W. Cardinall, have the appearance of black marble veined 
with white. Similar rings are made by the natives themselves in 
the hilly country of north Mamprussi, though a number are imported 
by traders from the French Sudan. The edges of a stone disk are 
rubbed away on the harder rocks until the object assumes the size 
and shape intended. The central portion of stone is abraded with 
an iron instrument, first on one side, then on the other. The armlet 
is tapped to chip out the attenuated central portion, after which 
further rubbing gives smoothness. 

Industries 435 

Among the ornaments obtainable in Kano and French Niger 
Territory are small brass crosses for wearing as neck pendants and 
small triangular glass ornaments, each having a round opening for 
threading a cord. Rodd (p. 282) states that the latter are known 
to the Tuareg as talhakim. The material used is red agate, white 
soapstone, or turquois-blue glass. These ornaments are so prized 
in the Sahara and Sudan that cheaper varieties made from red and 
white porcelain or glass are manufactured in Germany for trade 
purposes. The brass cross mentioned is described by Rodd as the 
Agades Cross. The Hausa of Medowa in French Niger Territory 
call the ornament couli. 

As early as 500 B.C. Phoenician traders visited the northwest 
coast of Africa where they went ashore and deposited articles manu- 
factured at Carthage. Natives left gold dust in exchange for these 
things, but in this silent trade no direct communication was made. 
Mungo Park makes clear that washing for gold was a native industry 
in the hilly country of Manding, far west Africa, in the year 1795. 
He states (p. 285) that most of the blacksmiths were acquainted 
with the method of smelting gold, in which process they used an 
alkaline salt obtained from a lye of burnt maize-stalks. The black- 
smiths drew the gold into fine wire from which ornaments were 
fashioned with great taste and ingenuity. Gold was also used to 
pay for salt. 

The work of washing for alluvial gold was carried out by women 
who carried spades for digging and calabashes for washing the soil. 
The gold dust obtained was stored in quills. On the first day of 
washing for gold a bullock was killed, while prayers were offered 
and charms were used to ensure success, since failure to find gold 
on the first day of digging was regarded as a bad omen (pp. 299-304). 

With regard to working in silver there is definite and detailed 
evidence respecting the technique of Nigerian silversmiths. The 
most complete account of working in the precious metals is given 
by J. W. Scott Macfie, who observed a silversmith of Bida working 
at Zungeru. Although the Hausa follow this profession occasionally, 
the Nupe are perhaps the most skillful. 

The bellows used are of the goatskin bag type, having two wooden 
slats at the wider end, and a wooden nozzle. This is the usual type 
of bellows in northern Nigeria and Algeria, and in the region of Air 
(Rodd, p. 299). The silversmith observed by Scott Macfie had a 
knowledge of casting silver by the cire perdu (lost wax) process in 
which a mold of clay with a core of rubber was used. This worker 

436 Culture Areas of Nigeria 

also made a gold ring from metal supplied by Scott Macfie. This 
observation was made in the year 1912 before the scarcity of gold. 

At the time of my visit (1930) I saw silversmiths of Bida making 
silver sword-scabbards, small flat lockets for holding talismanic 
verses, and silver rings. In Kano the Hausa smiths beat out French 
five-franc pieces into thin sheets which were made into silver bowls. 
Meek (I, vol. I, p. 156) describes the drawing out of silver wire 
by Hausa smiths of Bauchi, who are then able to make slender 
chains from the wire. 

Silversmith's work is skillfully carried out in the Aures Mountains 
of Algeria, where slender silver chains are made. Flat rectangular 
boxes of silver ornamented with embossed designs are made for hold- 
ing talismans. These boxes are the same in form and function as 
those made at Bida. But the inlaying of silver with enamel, which 
is a technique of the silversmiths in the Aures Mountains, has not 
extended to Nigeria so far as my observation goes. As in Algeria, 
the Nigerian silversmiths are able to make bracelets either from bars 
or by beating the metal into thin sheets. The details of Algerian 
work are given by Hilton-Simpson (Among the Hill-Folk of Algeria, 
pp. 83-84), and Meakin (p. 201) mentions the decoration of scabbards 
with silver. These writers give information which shows a close 
similarity between the technique and products of silversmiths in 
north Africa and Nigeria. 

Of the antiquity of working in precious metals in Africa there 
is no doubt. Petrie (p. 83) states that Asiatic gold was used in Egypt 
in the first dynasty, though a probability exists that Nubia was the 
first source from which the Egyptians obtained this metal. So 
general was the use of gold for necklaces that a picture of a collar 
of beads became the hieroglyph for gold. Gold was cast by the 
lost-wax process in the twelfth dynasty. 

The making of objects of silver in Egypt appears to be less ancient 
than working in gold. From prehistoric sites in Egypt a spoon of 
silver and the top of a jar have been obtained, but these are not 
known to be of Egyptian workmanship. Silver came commonly 
into use and manufacture in Egypt about the eighteenth dynasty. 
Inlay work was made about 700 B.C. by beating lines of gold and 
silver into copper (Petrie, pp. 96-103). 

The antiquity of silver work in Africa, the known migrations 
across the Sahara, and the similarity of silver objects made at the 
present day in Algeria and Bida support the hypothesis that Nigeria 
may be regarded as the terminus of a line of diffusion from Egypt, 

Industries 437 

along north Africa, across the Sahara, and into the Nigerian localities 
where silver work is now extant. Rodd (pp. 229-231, 283) states 
that the Agades blacksmith-jewelers melt down silver coins by 
heating them in small clay crucibles; and although much silver is 
lost by oxidation, the work is remarkably well finished considering 
the primitive nature of the tools. Ornaments for saddles and 
bracelets for women are two products of a Tuareg smith. This 
evidence of silver-working in the Sahara is important for establishing 
continuity in a supposed migration of the silversmith's craft. 

In Sokoto, through northern Nigeria, and among the Buduma 
of Lake Chad heavy metal bracelets and anklets are worn (Plate 
XCVIII, Fig. 4). These are made from bars of brass and copper 
which are purchasable from trader's stores. In the technique there 
is a design which I believe to be no chance resemblance to forms 
described by Rodd (p. 284). On bracelets made by Tuareg smiths 
of Air (Asben) the knobs are accurate cubes with the eight corners 
hammered flat, forming a figure having six square and eight tri- 
angular facets. This description also applies to similar ornaments 
from Sokoto and the country eastward as far as Lake Chad. The 
use of a small iron punch is general for making either indented designs 
or repousse" patterns on brass and silver ware at Bida and Kano. 
The heaviest of all metal ornaments acquired were coils of brass 
and copper wire used for decorating the arms and legs of Munshi 
women at Katsina Ala (Plate CXXVI, Fig. 1). 

Ivory-carving in Nigeria is not a common craft. From a Hausa 
trader two neatly carved tusks were obtained; these, however, had 
been brought from Cameroon. Each tusk was 50 cm. long, and 
though possibly made for Europeans, the design of a serpent climbing 
a tree to catch a bird is well executed and of undoubted African 
workmanship. In former years large ivory anklets were worn by 
women of Onitsha, but in 1930 I saw only one old woman with 
decoration of this kind. From the Munshi some small ivory anklets 
were obtained. These were old, and such ornaments are not com- 
monly used at the present time. At Kano a Hausa man makes 
ivory beads and cigarette holders on a lathe; but this is a modern 
development in response to European stimulus. 

The technique of ivory-working in Africa has been by no means 
adequately described, and even in discussing the work of Benin 
most writers have confined themselves to cataloguing the objects. 
H. Lang (pp. 527-552) has described the ivory work of the 
Mangbetu tribe in the northeast Congo region where ancient skill 

438 Culture Areas of Nigeria 

is now directed toward making spoons and cups of European form, 
though the ability to carve human figurines is still extant. The 
tools used are an adze and a sharp knife. 

A description of working in ivory is given by E. W. Smith and 
A. M. Dale (The Ila-speaking Peoples of Northern Rhodesia, vol. I, 
pp. 180-182). The lathe and its parts are well described and illus- 
trated and in addition to this an account of the making of ivory 
bangles is given. The ceremonial side of the craft is not neglected. 
The Ba-ila regard ivory-turning as being controlled by magic rather 
than by skill; therefore the ivory worker has to wash his face in 
certain decoctions to keep his eyes true, so that he may not run his 
chisels awry. 

The foregoing details relating to industries establish a number 
of facts and principles which will be of service in discussing the 
culture areas of Nigeria in the final chapter. The most important 
generalizations are as follows: 

(1) There has been a diffusion of cultural factors from the north 
of Africa across the Sahara to northern Nigeria, and in some in- 
stances the traits have entered the Southern Provinces. The most 
important of these traits are the vertical cotton loom; leather work, 
including sandals; skin bottles; silver work; working in brass by 
beating and casting; possibly coiled basketry; types of pottery, 
especially lamps and water coolers; some forms of musical instru- 
ments; satchel charms and some kinds of ornaments; and glass- 

(2) Indigenous to the Southern Provinces are forms of wood- 
carving which depend on the presence of forests and a religious 
incentive for the making of masks, human effigies, decorated doors 
for temples, and sacred drums. Absence of raw material, combined 
with Mohammedan injunctions against certain forms of art, has 
checked the northward spread of this trait. Ivory-carving was 
fostered in the south of Nigeria because of the presence of elephants 
and the incentive of religion. Bronze-casting throve because it 
centered in powerful guilds attached to the royal compound, where 
religious and social influences were strongly operative. 

(3) From the north and east came cultures centering round camels 
and horses. The latter were bred and used in warfare from Sokoto 
to Bornu, with a resulting stimulus to the trades of the leather 
worker and the blacksmith. The throwing-knife probably came 
from the eastern Sudan. The detailed studies of this weapon 
illustrate the probability of the transference of design from wood 

Industries 439 

to iron. The tendency for prototypes to throw off more specialized 
forms, and the probability that each of these new forms will have 
its characteristic area of distribution, are principles illustrated by 
study of throwing-knives. The idea of making harpoons having 
detachable heads, and the building of canoes of reeds, possibly 
migrated from the Nile region across the Sudan. 

(4) Beliefs associated with the blacksmith's craft are typical of 
those found everywhere south of the Sahara. There are two principal 
types of Nigerian bellows. One form is characteristic of northern 
Africa and the Sahara, while the other is of a pattern widely dis- 
tributed in the Congo region. 

(5) Sequestered plateau and mountain regions preserve artifacts 
that are probably representative of an older culture that was forced 
into shelter by the pressure of intruders. 

(6) There is a tendency for styles to develop locally, possibly as 
a result of individual genius. This trend is particularly well illus- 
trated by the details given with regard to decoration of gourds, 
and the occurrence of carved wooden bowls in an area near Potiskum. 

(7) Divisions of labor between the sexes exist. Thus there is 
one type of loom worked by women and another by men. The divi- 
sion is not necessarily based on any rational principle, for at Kano 
men make all the clothing for women, neither is there an implication 
of sex inferiority in these instances of specialization. 

(8) European influences indicate that native craftsmen are 
ingenious and adaptable in imitating new forms, also in grafting new 
elements of technique and design on older patterns. 

(9) An extended study along these lines would be a useful practical 
approach to the establishment and management of schools. Such 
centers exist at Bida, Benin, Maiduguri, and other places where 
the innate skill of young pupils is encouraged. Native handicrafts 
call forth admiration, and though there are advantages in teaching 
European methods and designs, these should not be allowed to dis- 
place what is indigenous. The ritual of religious belief, and social 
customs connected with occupations should always be recognized as 
necessary motivating forces. 

The data so far discussed have included geographical, archaeo- 
logical, and historical facts, to which have been added descriptions 
relating to the technique and distribution of industries. In a final 
chapter an effort is made to coordinate this information in such a 
way as to present a picture of the cultural patterns of Nigerian life, 
and to explain their probable origin and development. 

The Problem 

The main facts of geography, archaeology, and history have 
been supplemented by a detailed account of Nigerian industries 
and their distribution, but so far no attempt has been made to 
coordinate these data. C. K. Meek has said, "When we come to 
draw together the cultural threads with a view to arriving at definite 
ethnological conclusions we are involved in a tangle of difficulties." 
(I, vol. II, p. 160). At the outset this statement is discouraging 
since it was expressed by an anthropologist of wide knowledge and 
long experience in Nigeria; but the truth of it depends, I believe, 
on the nature of the explanation demanded. 

Some ethnological works describing Nigeria do not sufficiently 
summarize the ethnological data. A student feels that he has reliable 
information from ethnologists of long experience; but, on completion 
of several tomes, there is a sense of being confused with factual 
material. What does it all mean historically, geographically, and 

Should an attempt be made to map out Nigeria into well-defined 
areas of typical somatic traits, languages, and industries the result 
would be artificial and inaccurate, for no system of boundary lines 
could give a truthful indication of the overlapping that occurs. 
There would be no more than a partial coincidence of areas demar- 
cating physical types, languages, and customs. Yet, despite an 
apparent confusion, it may be possible at least to make clear a 
connection between the main facts of geography, history, and the 
distribution of physical types, languages, and other cultural elements. 

The problem of dividing Nigeria into culture areas by means of 
lines definitely marking off divisions with distinctive characters is 
impossible for the following reasons: 

Before the period of historical records, which began in the 
eighth century of the Christian era, there was a long and complicated 
history that has determined physical types, languages, and cultures 
as they are found today. In other words a time-depth scheme 
exists, and this, if fully known, would explain the order in which the 
somatic, linguistic, and cultural elements arrived. 

In addition to the difficulty of disentangling cultural and physical 
elements with a view to classifying them chronologically, there is 
the effect of ecological factors to be considered with reference to 
the present-day surface distribution of traits. 


Tribes and Their Cultures 441 

Cultural strata may in the first instance be laid with some uni- 
formity. But later, there are changes comparable to the warpings 
and intrusions with which a geologist has to deal. The distribution 
of cultures in depth and surface area, resulting from the operation 
of historical and geographical factors, may be illustrated as follows: 

To represent the cultures of Nigeria diagrammatically the usual 
linear diagram would have to be replaced by a series of colors, each 
of which would represent a cultural pattern. Thus the artist might 
select the color red to represent all the traits that are characteristic 
of Negro culture, and this tint he would lay over the whole of the 
Northern and Southern Provinces. A blue color might then be 
chosen to represent the elements of Mohammedan culture. This 
pigment would have to be thickly laid over the Northern Provinces, 
but in such a way that streaks of the blue ran into the red coloration 
of the Southern Provinces. In the Northern Provinces the predomi- 
nating color would be blue (Mohammedan) with here and there 
patches of red (Negro culture) showing plainly through the blue. 
If the colors were laid on while wet, the streaking at the junction 
of the pigments would represent an irregular margin of cultures 
where there is an exchange of cultural elements. To represent a 
blending of cultures correctly there should be here and there purple 
patches indicating that red and blue have so mixed that the patch 
cannot be said to represent one culture or the other, but an inex- 
tricable mingling of the two. 

At least one other color would have to be used to show those 
indeterminable cultural elements that have affected the Jukun, 
the Yoruba, and the Nupe. This is necessary, because, in addition 
to elements of Negro and Mohammedan culture, there are traits 
that some ethnologists ascribe to a Hamitic intrusion from the Nile 
Valley, across the provinces of Kordofan and Darfur, through Bornu, 
and into the areas occupied by the tribes mentioned. 

Such an inartistic map, with its blotches, streaks, and minglings, 
in which one color or another might predominate, would be a diagram 
more correct than one in which lines were used to delineate culture 

The foregoing paragraphs indicate that the following points, 
which have already been briefly mentioned, have to be considered 
more fully in attempting to explain the cultures of Nigeria: 

(1) The physical features of the tribes which have entered 

(2) The languages of the immigrants. 

442 Culture Areas of Nigeria 

(3) The type of culture brought by each arrival. 

(4) The chronological order of entry. 

(5) Historical and geographical factors that have affected the 
distribution of cultures. These determinants are comparable to 
forces of nature which distort and redistribute the original strati- 
fication of the earth's crust. To continue the analogy, there are 
in cultural history human controls and physical forces working 
incessantly to disturb both the depth and the surface distribution 
of what were at one time distinctive cultural strata. 

Somatic Characters 

Reference to Plates CXVII-CXLI will show that there are 
many physical types in Nigeria. These differ with regard to pig- 
mentation of the skin, stature, sturdiness of build, shape of face, 
hair, thickness of lips, eversion of lips, and nasal width. Physical 
measurements do not exist in sufficient quantity to allow a statistical 
comparison of all the physical types, but general observation and 
photography clearly indicate that the somatic characters involved 
are not the result of local environmental influences. The differences 
of the traits mentioned are too great to be explained by reference to 
local disparities of temperature, elevation of the land, humidity, 
and food, within Nigeria itself. 

It is true that physical anthropology does not at present profess 
to determine the extent to which environment can generate and 
change somatic character, neither are physical anthropologists agreed 
with regard to the characters which are the best criteria of a race, 
though certain entrenched features of the Negro are recognized. 
No satisfactory definition of a "race" has been formed, and the 
causes that have led to differentiation of even the main somatic 
divisions of mankind are a disputed biological problem. The 
mechanism of heredity as applied to human beings is imperfectly 
understood because of lack of controlled experiment and paucity of 
research along lines of descent in families. Furthermore, the 
variability of somatic characters as a result of miscegenation still 
offers a wide field of investigation. 

Despite these deficiencies of knowledge there is the possibility 
of having a clear concept of the physical traits which are implied 
by the use of the word Negro. If one thinks of the Kru of Liberia, 
or the Ibo of Nigeria there come to mind such characteristics as a 
thick heavy build with a well-developed torso, a medium stature, 
prominent heels, curved shin bones, prognathic jaws, a rounded 

Tribes and Their Cultures 443 

face with considerable bizygomatic breadth, a broad nose, and thick 
everted lips; also woolly hair. A difference of opinion exists with 
regard to the continent in which the Negro originated, and the 
rival claims of Africa and Asia have been advanced. But such a 
question, leading as it does to hypotheses respecting the primary 
origin and dispersal of man, or even to the possibility of polygenesis, 
is too speculative and theoretical to account for the present dis- 
tribution of physical traits of Nigerian tribes. 

Everywhere along the expeditionary route evidence of Negro 
traits was apparent, but at no place do all the traits appear; neither 
do they show the same degree of development in any two areas, or 
among any two tribes. When among Hausa-speaking peoples of 
northern Nigeria one might observe in certain individuals a strong 
development of traits that are associated with the word Negro, 
but on the contrary one would repeatedly admit that in other Hausa- 
speaking people Negro traits were strongly overlaid (Plate CXXXIII, 
Fig. 2). 

The reason for this admission would be a tall stature, a slimness 
of build, and a refinement of lips and nose. The same observation 
of overlaid Negro traits would be made with regard to some 
Shuwa Arabs, Keri-Keri, Bolewa, Jukun, Kanuri, and Fulani. For 
example, the Fulani chiefs who presided at the whipping contest 
(Plate CXXXV, Fig. 1) had a light brown skin, a tall slim build, 
a narrow hawk-like nose, and an oval face. Fulani girls (Plates 
CXXXV, Fig. 2; CXXXVI, Fig. 2) have a physique in which Negro 
characters are deeply overlaid by somatic traits of a kind differing 
in noticeable degree from those of the typical Negro. The hair 
of these girls was long and slightly wavy, and the woolly character 
of Negro hair was absent. 

In contrast with these northern tribes, who show a modification 
of typical Negro physique, should be mentioned the southern forest 
tribes who are predominatingly of Negro pattern. Such tribes are 
the Ibo, Yoruba, Egba, Jekri, Bini, and Sobo. But the Nupe 
show a modification of Negro traits in the direction of increased 
height, more slender build, and a refined physiognomy. The Nupe 
of Bida are, geographically, intermediate between northern and 
southern Nigeria, and this fact has had its anatomical results. 

The general impression left by the journey is the prevalence of 
Negro somatic traits south of the line 9° N. Lat., and the predomi- 
nance of modifying physical characters to the north of that line. 
The farther one proceeds to the north of 9° N. Lat. the more strongly 

444 Culture Areas of Nigeria 

are Negro features overlaid, until at Tahoua on the border of the 
Sahara Desert, the general type should be definitely described as a 
non-Negro population. 

Such observation raises the question of the origin and nature of 
this non-Negro type, in connection with which the mention of the 
words Hamitic and Semitic leads to controversial opinions. In 
chapter II (Archaeology) it was necessary to admit that the relation- 
ship of stone-building and stone-using peoples to the present popula- 
tion of west Africa is undetermined. One might go further and say 
that in the present state of archaeology, including examination of 
human osteological remains, the ethnologist has a very imperfect 
reconstruction of the history of African peoples. Osteological evidence 
is too meagre to demonstrate the degree of generic relationship be- 
tween people past and present. Neither do historical facts serve 
the inquiry until the written records of the eighth century give 
information concerning the intrusion of Semitic and Hamitic tribes 
into northern Nigeria. 

Therefore, in order to account for the overlay of Negro somatic 
traits, an investigator is forced into a realm of hypothesis, and in 
particular he is concerned with the postulated intrusion of Hamites 
into east Africa. The use of the word Hamite is not consistent with 
all writers, though there is a preponderance of belief in a remote 
linguistic and probably a physical union of Hamites and Semites. 

Despite the views of G. Sergi and G. A. Barton that Hamites 
originated in Africa, the general opinion of ethnologists relegates the 
original home of the Hamites to southwest Asia. From such a center 
they are thought to have spread along the north and down the east 
of Africa in many successive waves, from a period at least as early 
as 10,000 B.C. until recent centuries, though admittedly dates are 
mere guesswork (C. G. Seligman, I, pp. 593-705). 

The word Hamite has three distinct connotations. The chief 
characteristics of Hamitic speech are well defined because they are 
distinctly different from the structural foundations of the isolating 
Sudanic languages, the click language of Bushmen, and the 
grammatical forms of Bantu. The physical characters of the Hamites 
are usually said to be a slim build and fairly tall stature, a skin color 
varying from light brown to very dark shades, a refinement of lips 
and nose as compared with those features in the Negro, the absence 
of everted lips, and a texture of hair that is not negroid. The cultural 
import of the word Hamite varies, but a usual connotation would 
include pastoral pursuits, a distaste for manual labor, and an avoid- 

Tribes and Their Cultures 445 

ance of agriculture and vegetable foods. Hamites created warlike 
organizations which imposed their social structure, their language, 
and, where possible, their pastoral culture, on a Negro people. 

The debatable nature of Hamitic culture is illustrated by refer- 
ence to the divergent views of C. G. Seligman and of E. Torday. In 
"Races of Africa" (p. 156) Seligman says, "We may believe that the 
Negro who is now an excellent iron worker learnt this art from 
the Hamite." On the contrary, E. Torday doubts whether typically 
pastoral Hamites, who show an aversion to handicraft and manual 
labor generally, could contribute such a factor as iron-working. 
Torday, I think rightly, believes in a self-evolved Negro culture 
whose strongest facet is an aptitude for arts and crafts. In a cultural 
sense, so Torday says, the Hamitic hypothesis can be dispensed 
with so far as Negro artifacts are concerned (Herbert Spencer, 
Descriptive Sociology of African Races, London, 1930, Preface, iii). 
Yet, despite different points of view, the connotation of the word 
Hamite, as generally accepted, has a value in explaining the modi- 
fication of Negro physique, language, and cultural habits. 

A consensus of opinion favors the theory that the intruding 
Hamites formed an aristocracy that displaced a large Negro popula- 
tion in northeast Africa, with the result that Negroes moved west- 
ward along the northern edge of the forest belt, also southwestward 
across the Congo basin. There is, however, the probability that 
Negroes inhabited all Africa south of the Sahara before the entry 
of Hamites, and the evidence does not make certain that southern 
Nigeria first received a Negro population because intrusive Hamites 
forced Negro tribes westward. Nevertheless, Hamitic pressure, and 
later a series of impacts from Semites, have pressed the Negro 
population of Nigeria southward until the most typical Negroes, the 
Ijaw, are to be found on both sides of the Niger Delta. Such 
hypotheses, though controversial, have the advantage of giving a 
working basis which explains some of the facts of linguistic, somato- 
logical, and cultural distribution in Nigeria. 

Long before the well-known Arab invasions of the seventh and 
eleventh centuries, there came, probably from north Arabia, many 
waves of Semites into the Nile Valley and along northern Africa. 
For an unknown period Semitic blood, language, and customs have 
diffused into northern Nigeria from across the Sahara, also along the 
line from Lake Chad to the Nile Valley. 

The details of these Semitic and Berber invasions through trade 
and warfare have been detailed in chapter III (History and Explora- 

446 Culture Areas of Nigeria 

tion). The new arrivals were dominant in warfare, and the general 
tendency was to press the Negroes and Hamiticized Negroes into the 
forest belts of the south, while many tribes of strong Negro affinities 
took refuge in the plateau region that stretches across Nigeria from 
Yola, through Bauchi, Nassarawa, and Zaria. 

When endeavoring to understand the physical foundation of 
Nigerian tribes the most helpful hypothesis is the one outlined. This 
assumes a possibly indigenous Negro population having certain 
definite somatic characters of the Negro which have been modified 
in such a way that a large number of physical types has been 
produced. These types differ in skin color, build, stature, shape of 
face, prognathism, nasal breadth, and thickness and eversion of the 
lips. The people whose physique effected these changes to varying 
degrees in different parts of Nigeria are conveniently known as 
Hamites. Semitic (Arab) intrusions have further tended to efface 
the typical characteristics of both Negroes and Hamites. 

The Semitic (Arab) type has influenced somatic traits in the 
direction of light brown skin color, narrow oval face, thin lips, an 
aquiline nose, and straight hair. The cultural contributions of Arabs 
to Negro tribes have been more pronounced than the effects of racial 
miscegenation between Arabs and Negroes, but use of Negro slaves 
by Arabs has tended in some parts of north and west Africa to create 
a mixed population. 


Instances in which physical types are definitely associated with 
well-defined languages have to be recognized. The I jaw are a Negro 
people in a physical sense and they speak a Negro tongue. The 
Shuwa Arabs are of Semitic appearance with an obvious infusion 
of Negro blood, probably from slaves; yet among the Shuwa there 
is a definitely recognizable association of somatic traits of Arabs 
with a Semitic language. The Hausa-speaking people of northern 
Nigeria have the physique of Negroes modified by those characters 
which are generally accepted as Hamitic, while their speech is 
fundamentally Hamitic, with added elements of Sudanic (Negro) 
and Semitic languages. 

These facts illustrate the general truth, that although phys- 
ique and languages show some degree of local association it would 
not be possible to prepare two maps, one linguistic and the other 
somatological, in such a way that the divisions coincided when the 
maps were superimposed. A third map purporting to give the 

Tribes and Their Cultures 447 

distribution of associated cultural traits would make only an 
indifferent fit with the maps indicating distribution of languages 
and physical types. 

In view of the statement that a language may be classified in 
one group or another according to the facet under examination, like- 
wise in consideration of the number of unstudied dialects, maps 
showing quite different distributions of Hamitic, Semitic, and 
Sudanic (Negro) languages could be prepared. Meek and Talbot 
both recognize this, but nevertheless point out that a serviceable 
method of plotting linguistic distributions exists on the basis of main 
structural differences between Hamitic, Bantu, Sudanic, and Semitic 
tongues. Fundamental differences that are useful in making these 
broad divisions of linguistic families have been summarized by 
A. Werner, who quotes C. Meinhof, D. Westermann, M. Delafosse, 
and other linguists (Language Families of Africa, London, 1925, 
pp. 20-23; Structure and Relationship of African Languages, 
London, 1930). 

There are two main linguistic divisions of Negroes; namely, 
Sudanic-speaking and Bantu-speaking. The former group has iso- 
lating languages depending for meaning on the position of words 
in the sentence, and the use of high, middle, and low tones. The 
latter has languages whose structural unity is shown by the allitera- 
tive concord, classes of nouns with prefixes, the position of the 
genitive, and other points of a fundamental kind. The Bantu 
languages have semantic tones, but these do not influence the 
meanings of words to the same extent as in Sudanic languages. 

Differences between the physique of Sudanic and Bantu Negroes 
exist. The differences have sometimes been accounted for by stating 
that the Bantu-speaking Negro was produced by physical admixture 
with Hamites. But the main cultural elements of Negroes show impres- 
sive similarities despite the two main linguistic divisions (Bantu 
and Sudanic) and the physical differences that accompany them. 

Such discussion leads to the recognition of the following linguistic 
divisions in Nigeria: Sudanic, Bantu, Semi-Bantu, Hamitic, and 
Semitic, each of which rests on basic structural characters. These, 
however, become merged, as do also vocabularies, so leading, as 
Meek says, to a linguistic confusion without parallel. Yet despite 
the confusion there is a general truth worth noting. If Hausa is 
classed as Hamitic, and many linguists would agree to this, the main 
languages north of 9° N. Lat. are firstly Hamitic and Semitic tongues 
supplemented by isolating Sudanic Negro languages. To the south 

448 Culture Areas of Nigeria 

of this division there is a predominance of Sudanic languages which 
extend from the west to the east, where they merge into Semi- 
Bantu and Bantu at the border between Nigeria and Cameroon. 

There is, however, only a general correspondence between the 
distribution of physical types and languages. With regard to each 
of these factors the dividing line is approximately 9° N. Lat. To 
the north of this there is a prevalence of non-Negro physique com- 
bined with a paramount importance of Hamitic and Semitic elements 
of speech. These are associated with intrusive Hamites and Semites, 
who possessed those physical traits that have modified the somatic 
characters of the true Negro. To the south of the ninth parallel 
Negro languages (Sudanic, Semi-Bantu, and Bantu) are of primary 
importance, and these are associated with a prevalent Negro physique. 

These preliminary observations relating to types of physique 
and linguistic families lead to a dissection of cultural elements in 
the hope of associating these traits in a definite way with linguistic 
and somatological divisions. From the observations made respecting 
linguistic areas and those in which a type of physique predominates, 
it will be surmised that cultural diffusion has been extensive and 
that conclusions will be of a general kind. Yet the plotting of cultural 
areas, apart from language and physique, is favored by the fact that 
there are in Nigeria potent geographical determinants which tend 
to create patterns of culture according to rainfall, temperature, 
elevation of the land, and the resulting types of flora and fauna. 

This truth could be expressed in a more general way by saying 
that cultural traits, which are primarily laid in a stratification 
corresponding with the time of their arrival or invention, are re- 
arranged by geographical determinants. Consequently, a time-depth 
scheme of cultural elements tends to give place to a surface arrange- 
ment of the traits, because these are segregated and controlled by 
the geographical conditions mentioned in chapter I. 

This physical check on the geographical distribution of tangible 
cultural traits, of which camel-rearing and horse-breeding are 
examples, contrasts sharply with the mobility of physical and 
linguistic traits. When one considers the extent and duration of 
warfare in Nigeria, with its concomitants of slavery and the transport 
of large numbers of slaves from one area to another, the wide mingling 
of physical traits is understandable; so also is the mixing of mobile 
linguistic elements. 

In contrast with the ready mingling of languages and somatic 
traits there is the helpful fact that geographical conditions have 

Tribes and Their Cultures 449 

placed a check on diffusion of many important cultural elements. 
Consequently, it is possible to make a spatial grouping of these into 
cultural patterns that depend primarily on geographical conditions. 

Negro Culture 

When describing the somatic traits and languages of Nigerian 
tribes, attention was called to the importance of Negro characteristics 
of a physical kind, while the wide distribution of Negro languages, 
especially Sudanic, was also noted. 

As a concomitant of these physical and linguistic traits of the 
Negro there is a type of culture which is fundamental to the whole 
of Nigeria, though the Negro elements are more deeply entrenched 
south of the line 9° N. Lat. than to the north of that parallel. The 
forest culture of Sudanic-speaking Negroes is in close correspondence 
with the culture of Bantu-speaking Negroes, who occupy the greater 
part of the Congo basin and Cameroon. In fact, if due allowance is 
made for special localizations of culture, there is predominating uni- 
formity in the pattern of forest Negro culture from far west Africa 
through Liberia, the Ivory Coast, Ashanti, Dahomey, Nigeria, 
Cameroon, the Congo basin, and into the land occupied by the 
Ovimbundu of Angola. 

In stating that the following elements are characteristic of 
southern Nigeria, and that the welding of these forms a pattern of 
Negro culture which is typical for a large area, it is recognized that 
not all the elements are to be found together in every part of the area 
under discussion. 

In one area, or tribe, some features of Negro culture are 
emphasized, while others are obsolete or are overlaid and disguised 
by other elements. Yet the Negro factors mentioned in the following 
paragraphs are associated with sufficient frequency to give a clear 
general impression of a Negro culture which is basic throughout 
Nigeria. The question of traits that have intruded into the Negro 
culture of Nigeria is not considered here; therefore the list of traits 
is confined to those which are probably original and basic charac- 
teristics of Negro culture. The elements may be classified as reli- 
gious, social, and industrial, though such divisions are not mutually 
exclusive because an element of religion enters into every depart- 
ment of the social and industrial life. But, so far as it is possible to 
separate the industrial traits, they are as follows for Negro culture: 

(1) Skill in iron work, which is surrounded with ritual. The 
sacred grove of the patron god Ogun at Ife is but one instance of 

450 Culture Areas of Nigeria 

the ideas which everywhere among Negroes surround the blacksmith's 
craft. The details have been given in chapter IV (Industries). 

(2) Wood-carving, which finds its best expression in the making 
of wooden masks, human figures, stools, door posts, carved staffs 
of office, wooden combs, and many other objects. There are in 
Negro tribes many centers of wood-carving, each having a distinc- 
tive style of art. Thus stools of the Ivory Coast, Ashanti, Bida 
in Nigeria, and Bamenda in Cameroon are readily distinguishable. 

(3) Ivory-carving is skillfully done by Negroes, and at Benin the 
finest carved tusks of Africa have been produced. 

(4) According to Ling Roth (Studies in Primitive Looms) the 
vertical mat loom may be indigenous to Negro culture in the center 
of Africa. The other looms used in Nigeria are possibly non-Negro 
in origin, yet long association with Negroes makes these looms a 
typical part of Negro culture. 

(5) Elaborate carving of calabashes is a highly specialized art 
among Negroes. The origin is unknown, but the craft with its 
many local styles is thoroughly characteristic of Negro culture. 

(6) Making bark cloth is a typical Negro industry. 

(7) Raffia work of all kinds is used in the making of mats, clothing, 
and baskets. 

(8) The origin of coiled basketry is unknown, but examples in 
the Egyptological collection of Field Museum are dated 2000 B.C. 
It is possible that coiled basketry originated among Negroes and 
spread into Egypt, or the reverse may be true. But the construction 
and sewing of the coils suggests diffusion rather than independent 

(9) Making of pottery by the coiling and punching of clay is 
an art which finds expression among all Negroes, though the origin 
of the processes is unknown. 

(10) Hoe cultivation by women is basic in Negro society, though 
of course there are many types of hoes in use, and the part played 
by males in agriculture varies locally. In forest clearings extensive 
cultivation of root crops and maize is practiced. The latter becomes 
the main crop in country where the forest gives place to open regions, 
as in central Angola and on the plateau of Northern Rhodesia. 
Maize, yams, peanuts, manioc, and sweet potatoes are the principal 
crops of Negro agriculturalists. In southern Nigeria yam festivals 
and the worship of the yam spirit are traits which are not common to 
the whole of the Negro area under discussion. But some kind of 

Tribes and Their Cultures 451 

ceremony in connection with sowing, reaping, and offering the first 
fruits to ancestors is usual in Negro tribes. In the economic life 
of Negroes the oil palm, the raffia palm, and the wine palm are 
essential to several staple occupations. 

(11) Animal husbandry is not a typical Negro trait, though 
Negroes in contact with pastoral tribes keep cattle when conditions 
permit. Avoidance of milk as food is a Negro trait, yet some Negro 
tribes use the milk of cattle and goats. 

(12) Fishing by means of nets, spears, poisons, conical basket- 
traps, and weirs is a widely distributed Negro industry. Bows 
and arrows, blunt wooden bird-arrows, spears, shields, making fire 
by twirling, and the use of the long dugout canoe, are cultural traits 
found generally among forest Negroes. 

All the foregoing cultural elements are characteristic of Negro life 
in southern Nigeria, which is but a geographical and cultural sample 
of the more extensive African area occupied by Negroes. 

Negro architecture is confined to the building of huts of various 
types in which wattle walls plastered with mud are general. The 
roof is a thick thatch of grass, though leaves of palms and banana 
trees may be used. The shapes may be round, square, or rectangular, 
but wherever Negroes are known to build houses of clay with flat 
roofs an intrusive culture is certain. 

So far as handicrafts are concerned the Negro is inclined to form 
himself into craft guilds, some of which center in the king's compound. 
The relationship between handicraft, religious beliefs, and ritual is 
best understood by reading Rattray's "Religion and Art in Ashanti," 
but everywhere among Negroes there is association of this kind to 
varying degree. The importance of division of labor on a sex basis 
has to be recognized, though the tasks thought to be appropriate 
for men and women respectively vary with locality. 

Everywhere in Negro society social life has certain fundamental 
elements, among which definite types of musical instruments, songs, 
and dances are prominent; and despite diversity there is appreciable 

Almost everywhere among Negroes there flourish secret societies 
which exist for various purposes such as initiation of boys into the 
tribe; this is, however, only one aspect of the secret society. Initia- 
tion rites include seclusion, harsh treatment, circumcision of boys 
and frequently some corresponding operation for girls, use of masks 
and netted costumes, painting of the body, instruction, change of 
name, and ceremonial re-introduction to society with adult status. 

452 Culture Areas of Nigeria 

From Sierra Leone to Cameroon a special form of secret society 
is one which constitutes a powerful political, legal, and economic 
unit. There are societies of this kind for men and others for women, 
who have special privileges according to the number of grades through 
which they have been initiated. Progress through various degrees 
may last a lifetime, and such advance is almost invariably accom- 
panied by payment of fees to the society. The legal functions of 
such groups as the Leopard and Crocodile societies of Sierra Leone, 
and the Ogboni league of the Yoruba, have formed social controls, 
which, though despotic, have played a necessary part at the cultural 
levels in which they function. 

Associated with such societies are age grades, a term which has 
been somewhat vaguely used to cover gradings in Africa, Melanesia, 
and among North American Indians. These gradings have, however, 
been shown to rest on concepts that are radically different (R. H. 
Lowie, Plains Indian Age-Societies, Amer. Mus. Nat. Hist., Anthro- 
pological Papers, No. II, pp. 883-951). 

Lowie's research emphasizes the need for caution in using the 
term "age grade." Possibly the age grades of Nigerian Negroes 
may prove to be structurally and functionally different from those 
in other parts of Africa. Age grades among the Hamitic Galla and 
Masai are formed on a basis of contemporary circumcision, and at 
intervals of seven years government of the country is handed over 
to a new grade. These points constitute important differences 
between true Hamitic age grades and division according to age in 
some societies of west Africa, where passage from one grade to 
another depends as much on payment as on seniority. 

In the social life of Negro tribes the classificatory system of 
relationship with cross-cousin marriage is a dominant feature. In 
some regions the system is not well defined, and there is evidence of 
its decline in the use of one term for a large number of relatives who 
used to be classed in small groups, each of which was distinguished 
by a special name. But in other regions the classificatory system 
is extant and vigorous, as among the Ovimbundu of Angola, among 
whom no difficulty was experienced in collecting the class names 
of grouped relatives. 

Reckoning of descent through females is typical of the Negro 
social system, in which laws of succession and inheritance often 
function through the maternal uncle. This relative is responsible for 
his sister's children, even to the extent of paying their fines and debts, 
while he may go so far as to sell his sister's children or put them to 

Tribes and Their Cultures 453 

work in order to meet his own liabilities. Family life among Negroes 
has therefore a definite pattern in which the authority of a father 
is subordinate to that of a maternal uncle. 

Warfare and its concomitant of slavery are institutions of Negro 
tribes. The former shows power of military organization as in 
Ashanti, Dahomey, among the Yoruba, in the old Kingdom of Kongo, 
and later in Lunda. But the Negro, with the exception of the Zulu, 
has not developed such a thorough, permanent, and detailed military 
system as that which is typical of the Hamitic Masai. 

Everywhere among Negroes slavery has important domestic, 
economic, and social influences. Domestic slaves, that is, those 
who are pawned to redeem debts, are more favorably treated than 
those who are captured in war. But generally speaking, slaves in 
Negro society work with and not merely for their masters. The 
position of such slaves differs from that of Negroes captured by 
Arabs and taken away for sale to Morocco and Tripoli, where they 
dwell among another race to whom they are servile. In Negro 
society slaves were of ritual importance because they were sacrificed 
and eaten on such occasions as the death of a king and the accession 
of a new ruler. There is no part of Negro Africa where the ceremonial 
slaughter of slaves has been more prevalent than in Ashanti, 
Dahomey, and Benin. 

Blood brotherhood by the mingling of blood from the bodies of 
those who make a covenant is a typically Negro custom with local 
variations. Among the Yoruba, for example, a kola nut may be 
smeared with the blood of the contracting parties, who then eat it. 
The blood compact by drinking milk and blood is of importance 
among pastoral tribes of east and northeast Africa. Robertson 
Smith (Kinship and Marriage in Early Arabia, Cambridge, 1885, 
pp. 47-49) comes to the conclusion that among early Semites an 
exchange of blood from the bodies of those who made an alliance 
was effected by drinking or tasting. The origin of blood exchange 
as now practiced among Negroes is unknown, though it may have 
been Semitic; but whatever the origin of the trait may have been, 
the custom can be added to those traits which are now characteristic 
of Negro culture. 

Negroes display an aptitude for building up political organizations 
that differ from mere military systems. It is true, however, that 
political power of Negro states has rested on military strength with 
consequent warfare and disruption. This may be proved by following 
the history of Ashanti, Dahomey, the Yoruba of Nigeria, and the 

454 Culture Areas of Nigeria 

kingdoms of Kongo and Lunda. Yet, despite the union between 
political power and militarism in Negro kingdoms, the Negro concept 
of a kingdom is something essentially different from the formation of 
a simple military aristocracy which lacks religious sanction and 
elaborate court ritual. 

Negro kingdoms secure strength and cohesion through a religious 
organization. The kings of the Ashanti, the Dahomeans, and the 
Bini were the repositories of the soul of the nation, therefore 
prosperity of the land was closely bound up with the health, youth, 
and vigor of the king. This is as true of the kings of far west Africa 
as it was of rulers in Uganda and among the Nilotic Shilluk. To 
these regions the custom of strangling a decrepit king was com- 
mon, and it was not unusual for the king to be asked to take his 
own life. During life the king's person was sacred. There are 
examples, notably from Benin, of the king having to remain inside 
his own compound which he might not leave except at night and 
in disguise. In some localities the king had to be carried so that 
his feet might not touch the ground. 

The importance of women of the king's household may be seen 
from Rattray's "Ashanti," and "Religion and Art in Ashanti." 
The same is true of the Yoruba, among whom, notably at Oyo, there 
exist the king's court and the queen's court. Meek (I, vol. I, 
p. 256) calls attention to the importance of females in the royal 
household of the Jukun. The two most important women are the 
Atsukaka and the Ashumotsi. The former is one of the late chief's 
sisters in the classificatory sense, and her power is partly due to her 
supposed control of rain. Ashumotsi is the favorite wife of the 
deceased chief; she is the reigning chief's official mother and is 
consulted by the king on all important official matters. These two 
women mutually control the election of the chief's successor. 

The importance of a Negro king is even greater after death than 
during his life. Among many Negro tribes the king's death is not 
announced during a period which varies from a few days to several 
months. There are means of drying and preserving the body, and 
parts of a corpse may be disinterred, decorated, and reburied, or 
possibly preserved in a sacred hut. Houses for stools of deceased 
chiefs of Ashanti are important, and on anniversary days the stools 
are anointed with blood from sacrificed goats. The preservation 
of parts of a king's body together with objects with which he was 
associated is a basic Negro custom. The Ovimbundu sew a king's 
head in oxhide and preserve it in a box. In times of drought, or 

Tribes and Their Cultures 455 

when setting out on a caravan journey, the head is taken from 
the box in the presence of the reigning king, for whom a medicine- 
man acts as priest. The head is questioned, sacrifice is made, and 
a new oxhide wrapping and box may be given. Such attentions 
after death are due to a belief that the prosperity of the kingdom 
is bound up with the spirit of the king, just as in his lifetime the 
welfare of the community depended on his vigor, personal safety, 
and the sanctity of his person. 

This sanctity of the king and killing of decrepit kings in order 
to preserve the prosperity of the country may be Egyptian in its 
origin. Seligman (I) classes divinity of kings, rain makers, and 
killing of kings, with Hamitic traits. But whatever the truth of 
that may be, the point of greatest importance here is that a well- 
established kingship of great political power, backed by strong 
religious sanction and supported by ancestral cults, is now typical 
of Negro kingdoms. In this aggregate of traits surrounding kingship 
southern Nigeria has fully shared. 

The strongest beliefs of a religious kind among Negroes are those 
relating to the spirits of ancestors and their power for working good 
or evil among the living. Ideas of a Supreme Being tend to be 
vague among Bantu Negroes; thus the Nzambi of the Congo region 
and the Suku of the Ovimbundu are powerful creators, but they are 
so far removed from contact with men that sacrifices to them are 
not usual. The god issues no commands and does not appear to 
be interested in the conduct of man, neither does the Supreme Being 
punish or reward men according to their conduct on earth. 

On the contrary the spirits of ancestors are active in their interest. 
Some of them are jealous and easily offended by absence of sacrifice; 
they are therefore consulted by a medicine-man who induces them 
temporarily to enter a wooden figure whose body is filled with a 
concoction. The Ovimbundu have spirits who are classified into 
two main divisions, the olosande or good spirits, and the olondele 
or bad spirits. Spiritual life is concerned with the activities of these 
spirits, whose operations are known to the medicine-man. He 
makes his contacts by use of wooden images, a divination basket, 
and dances in which a small ax is carried. The Ovimbundu use 
the word utima (heart) for soul, and the western Bantu are shown 
by Torday to believe in a dual soul (Dualism in Western Bantu 
Religion and Social Organization, J.R.A.I., LVIII, pp. 225-245). 
H. Junod makes clear that the Bathonga have a multitude of ancestral 
spirits who are divided in their interest in the living. Thus there 

456 Culture Areas of Nigeria 

are spirits who are concerned chiefly with the family, others are 
approached on tribal matters, and some are concerned chiefly with 
warfare. But the Supreme Being is not important or actively 
interested in the tribe (Life of a South African Tribe, Neuchatel, 
1912, vol. II, pp. 346-385). 

These data relating to ideas of a supreme being, the existence 
of a soul or souls, and the importance of ancestral spirits, are typical 
of Bantu Negro and Sudanic Negro religion. But in southern Nigeria, 
especially among the Yoruba, exist theistic beliefs which cannot 
be regarded as having a general distribution among Negroes. A 
considerable part of the following statements, which are made in 
reference to the Yoruban deism and polytheistic beliefs, apply also 
to Dahomey and Ashanti. 

In southern Nigeria, likewise in Ashanti, prevail definite concepts 
of a sky god and an earth mother. Such deities are named; more- 
over, they are active and therefore demand sacrifice and consultation. 
In this respect they are unlike the Nzambi, Suku, and Kalunga of 
the Congo and Angola. When one stands in the Temple of the 
God of Thunder at Ibadan (Plate CLVIII) or consults Johnson's 
"History of the Yorubas," it is evident that there is a Nigerian 
theistic element which cannot be said to form a general trait of 
Negro religion. 

Among the Yoruba there is a rich mythology which is combined 
in a subtle and inextricable way with known facts of Yoruban history 
and theistic beliefs. This complexity of religious beliefs may be no 
more than a special local development among tribes of southern 
Nigeria, Dahomey, and Ashanti, yet an intrusive element of 
systematic polytheism, possibly from Egypt, is not unlikely. But 
it would be safer merely to say that in southern Nigeria, and 
particularly among the Yoruba, there exist theistic beliefs which are 
not typical of Negro religion. Meek (III, chapter III) definitely 
attributes certain aspects of Jukun religion to Egyptian influence. 
But perhaps the word Hamitic, rather than Egyptian, is preferable 
because of its broader connotation. 

The following elements are typical of the spiritual beliefs of 
southern Nigeria, and to a great extent they may justly be said 
to form a general background of Negro religion. 

Sacred groves, pools, and creeks having guardian animals are 
widespread. A grove may contain a variety of objects such as 
stones, living serpents, small houses sheltering clay figures, possibly 
also masks and costumes. Such groves have a wide distribution 

Tribes and Their Cultures 457 

among Sudanic and Bantu Negroes. The sacred grove is readily 
traced from Sierra Leone, through Liberia into Ashanti, and along 
southern Nigeria into Cameroon. There are many sacred groves 
in the region to the north of the Congo estuary, and they are common 
in Uganda. The use of sacred groves is a basic trait of Negro 
spiritual life, so also is the employment of shrines; that is, places 
which form temporary abodes of spirits who require sacrifices to be 
made in an appointed spot. A small hut, which shelters clay figures 
of animals and human beings to whom cowries and other offerings 
have been made, is one of the commonest elements of Negro religion 
in southern Nigeria and elsewhere. The bull-roarer is still in use, 
and in many places it is regarded as a sacred accessory of religious 
rites among Negroes. 

Python worship reached its highest development in southern 
Nigeria and Dahomey, where the beliefs and rituals associated with 
pythons kept in huts in charge of priests and priestesses, constituted 
the most elaborate system of serpent worship in Africa. A similar 
series of beliefs and practices is reported by J. Roscoe from Uganda 
(Python Worship in Uganda, Man, 1909, No. 57). Research into 
African serpent worship, cults, and beliefs does not suggest that 
such aspects of religion can truly be regarded as generally character- 
istic of Negro religion. But in Nigeria, Dahomey, and Uganda one 
probably sees the remnant of a phase of religion which was formerly 
more common than it is today. The whole evidence relating to 
ophiolatry in Africa shows that beliefs in the magical power of snakes 
as guardians of sacred places, as reincarnated spirits, and as 
announcers of conception, is a widespread trait of Negro life which 
has extended to and survived to the present day among non-Negro 
tribes of northern Nigeria (No. 1, this volume, 1931). 

Among Negroes of southern Nigeria beliefs often described as 
animistic are common. Many tribes revere genii of the rocks, trees, 
and streams, all of which require placation by sacrifice. There is 
no part of African territory occupied by Negroes which shows a 
more intense development of this aspect of religion. But some 
Negroes have entirely lost these animistic beliefs. For example, 
among the Ovimbundu, who are Bantu Negroes, I could find no 
trace of animism. 

If totemism is regarded as being a sentimental bond between 
man and some plant or animal, one may say that totemic beliefs 
are typical of the religious ideas of Negroes in southern Nigeria. 
Together with these beliefs in a mystic alliance between a man and 

458 Culture Areas of Nigeria 

his familiar animal, there exist many ideas concerning reincarnation 
and transformation. Such concepts occur sporadically among 
Negroes in all parts of Africa, and evidences of totemic clans are 

Possibly serpent worship, animistic beliefs, and totemic concepts 
formed a primary series of allied beliefs which constituted early 
Negro religion. Whatever may be the truth of this suggestion, it 
is certain that such beliefs are still strongly entrenched among typical 
Negroes of west Africa. 

One aspect of religious thought that is more prominent with 
Negroes of west Africa than among Bantu Negroes is the erection 
of stones representing the phallus; also the employment of eggs in 
sacrifice. In southern Nigeria are groves containing egg-shaped 
stones, while the breaking of eggs against sacred stones and trees 
is a common rite often mentioned by Rattray (IV, passim). This 
tendency to emphasize traits relating to fertility may, in my opinion, 
be added to python worship, totemism, animistic beliefs, and well- 
defined ideas of reincarnation, all of which are perhaps more 
pronounced among Sudanic than Bantu Negroes, though this 
generalization would require careful testing. 

The medicine-man and his practices form a common element of 
Negro religion. Everywhere in Negro society the medicine-man is 
a medium for approaching a world of ancestral spirits. Most fre- 
quently this is accomplished by the use of human figures of wood, 
or other objects which may become temporary shrines of spirits, 
who can then be consulted. Other important functions of the 
medicine-man are rain-making, divination, and the conducting of 
trial by ordeal. In addition to these duties the legitimate medicine- 
man seeks to discover the wizards who are workers of anti-social 
magic. The Umbundu distinction between the legitimate practi- 
tioner (ocimbanda) and the evil magician (nganga) is one which holds 
among many Negro tribes. 

Among the minor characteristics of Negro culture in southern 
Nigeria are the following traits, which might be accepted as fairly 
constant elements of Negro civilization. 

Foremost among these is the making of drums, signaling, keeping 
sacred drums in special houses, belief in spirits living in drums, 
and association of drummers with the king's compound. Among 
games, string figures, mancala, and wrestling are common in Negro 
communities. The ceremonial use of kola nuts, scarification, tooth 
mutilation, the use of red camwood powder, and the wearing of 

Tribes and Their Cultures 459 

heavy collars, bracelets, and anklets are traits found to varying 
extent in Negro groups. 

These traits comprising religious beliefs, social organization, and 
handicrafts, when massed together form a complex life which may 
be described as a Negro culture. Into this foundation of Nigerian 
Negro life, there have been many intrusions from other cultural 
patterns, which will now be considered. 

Foreign Elements in Negro Culture 

The preceding pages have described a background of Negro 
culture in Nigeria, but the task of estimating the origin and strength 
of cultural intrusions is more difficult. The foreign elements in 
Nigerian Negro cultures are mainly Hamitic, Semitic, Mediterranean, 
and European. The word Semitic is here used to include, not merely 
pre-Koranic cultural elements from early Arabian life, but also those 
which are associated with Arab incursions and Mohammedanism. 
The Mediterranean culture includes traits of Egypt from 4000 B.C. 
onward, and perhaps elements from Cretan, Roman, and 
Phoenician civilizations. 

Some Hamitic traits are now so well entrenched among Negroes 
as to form part of a Negro culture, and a possible instance of this 
was mentioned in connection with age grades. The fattening of 
girls before marriage is now a Negro custom of southern Nigeria, 
but dispersal of the rite along north Africa and in the Hamiticised 
area of northeast Africa suggests Hamitic origin. 

Operations on the sexual organs of girls are frequent among 
Negro tribes, for example, among the Yoruba, the Ijaw, and the 
Bini, but there is evidence to indicate that the custom was originally 
Hamitic. The operation occurs in its most drastic form among the 
Kababish of Kordofan in whom there are Semitic and Hamitic 
elements of race and culture. The Galla and other tribes of the 
Hamitic area of northeast Africa perform clitoridectomy or some 
other operation on their females, and the observations of Seligman 
(I, III) indicate that these rites have a Semitico-Hamitic origin. 

Circumcision of boys is now a strongly entrenched trait of Negro 
life, whether Mohammedan or not, but in all probability the practice 
did not originate with Negroes or with Mohammedan Arabs. The 
earliest evidence for circumcision of boys is derived from dissection 
of Egyptian mummies (G. Elliot Smith, Ancient Egyptians and 
Origins of Civilization, 1923, p. 62). The archaeological and 
anatomical evidence suggests 3600 B.C. as the earliest known period 

460 Culture Areas of Nigeria 

for this rite, which may have been introduced into the Nile Valley 
by early Hamites. 

In continuing to enumerate traits that have imposed themselves 
on the Negro culture of southern Nigeria the following are important 
not merely as an academic study, but in the practical aspects of 
administration and education. 

Mohammedanism has entered into the tribal life of Nigeria, 
bringing with it influences affecting religion, family government, 
law, art, literature, and education. The general tenets of the 
Mohammedan faith are too well known to require detailed recapitula- 
tion. But they may be summarized in the briefest way by referring 
to the repetition of a creed, the saying of prayers five times a day, 
the erection of mosques, the keeping of the feast of Ramadan and 
other holy periods, the giving of alms, and the desirability of 
making a pilgrimage to Mecca. 

Mohammedan law forbids trial by ordeal, but an oath is taken 
on the Koran, a legal procedure which has its analogue in the Negro 
custom of swearing at a sacred shrine. But despite differences 
between Mohammedan and Negro law a unity exists, since both 
are concerned with redress of private wrongs rather than mainte- 
nance of public order. This is true especially with regard to 
punishments for murder, theft, and adultery. 

Mohammedan law introduces new elements into Negro concepts 
of family government and the institution of slavery. The relation- 
ship between master and slave receives a legal sanction based on 
Koranic teaching, and this relationship is reflected in laws regulating 
marriage of slaves, the status of children of slaves, and the legal 
rights of these offspring. Mohammedan religion and law have 
placed a check on cannibalism, trial by ordeal, and human sacrifice. 

Under Mohammedan dominance a type of political organization 
different from that of the Negro prevails, especially north of 9° N. 
Lat. The Islamic type of government favors strong sultanates 
operating through an aristocracy under which farmers are both 
landowners and slaves. 

Koranic injunction forbidding the use of human and animal 
forms in art stimulates the use of geometric design; such motifs 
may be seen in the brass work of Bida and in the leather work of 
Kano. The religious influence of Islam leads to the founding of 
schools where the mallam sits with his pupils teaching them to 
write Koranic texts on smooth boards. And along with Mohammedan 
religion and education are found the rosary and the use of leather 

Tribes and Their Cultures 461 

charms containing Koranic texts. Bori dancing to cast out demons 
of sickness is a spiritual factor of unknown history. Possibly it 
is of Negro origin, though now practiced in Mohammedan 

Elements of Arabian folklore are sometimes grafted on Negro 

A northern Mohammedan culture has brought with it the use 
of clay houses of the type seen at Kano, at Bida, and among the 
Yoruba. Such dwellings are quite distinct from houses of typical 
Negro construction (Plate CXLII). The use of an impluvium in 
Yoruban yards is possibly a cultural trait of Roman origin. 

The turban, a riga or gown, and wide trousers are elements 
foreign to Negro culture (Plate CXXXII); so also are sandals, but 
these date back far beyond the introduction of Mohammedan 
culture. In Egypt (1500 B.C.) sandals were commonly worn, and 
two thousand years before that date they were known. Materials used 
in their construction were leather, papyrus reeds, and palm fiber. 

In a journey northward from Lagos horses were observed in 
Ilorin, but few were seen until Bida, which is on the ninth parallel, 
was reached. The occurrence of horses at this place along with 
their accoutrements, which are products of the leather workers' 
and blacksmiths' crafts, is an intrusion of cultural importance because 
of its stimulation to industry. 

The use of cross-hilted swords, and knives with scabbards of 
brass or silver, is a northern trait which is traceable across the 
Sahara to Morocco, as may be seen in Meakin's "The Moors" 
(p. 201). The styles of beaten brass work in Bida undoubtedly owe 
much to Moroccan influence (Meakin, pp. 82-85, and my Plate 

With this northern Mohammedan culture are associated itinerant 
barbers whose outfit includes cupping horns, razors, knives for 
circumcising children, possibly also henna stain and instruments 
for tattooing designs in indigo. 

In Kano henna stain was placed at the bottom of narrow decorated 
gourds which were worn on the arms of women. Tattooing is done in 
Kano, but not in Ramadan. I observed women as far south as 
Ogbomosho who had intricate, incised, geometrical designs on their 
backs, and into these a blue coloring matter had been rubbed; the 
process has been described by J. W. Scott Macfie. The use of 
henna, tattooing, and kohl under the eyes are non-Negro traits 
which have penetrated from Egypt along the Mediterranean littoral 

462 Culture Areas of Nigeria 

into a Negro population such as the Yoruba, in whose market places 
the accessories of these traits were purchased. Wearing a silver 
or wooden plug in the side of the nostril is another form of personal 
ornament not indigenous to the Negro, though it is common in 
north Africa, Egypt, and India (Plate CXXXIX, Figs. 1, 2). 

The large market places of Nigeria are not a typical Negro trait; 
they resemble the large bazaars of north African and Egyptian towns. 
There is nothing in the general style and organization of the extensive 
markets at Ibadan and Ilorin to justify their inclusion with the 
unpretentious trade of typical Negroes. A large bazaar does not 
seem compatible with the typical forest culture of the Negro, and 
the trait is probably derived from a northern Arab culture. In 
close association with these markets are entertainers, including snake 
charmers, wrestlers, professional singers, players of the algaita, water 
carriers, troupes of dancers, barber surgeons, and showmen who 
work marionettes (Plates CXLVII-CXLIX, CLII). All of these 
elements one associates with north Africa, Egypt, and farther east, 
but not with the typical Negro. 

Several musical instruments which are made and used in Morocco 
(Meakin, pp. 202-203) are foreign to Negro culture. These forms 
include the algaita, which is known in Morocco as the ghaitah; also 
the pottery drum and the ginbiri. The last instrument is known 
to the Hausa as molo. This is a small wooden instrument covered 
with leather, and it is played by twanging two strings. In the 
Northern Provinces occurs the long trumpet such as is used by horse- 
men of Bornu, who form the household guard of the Shehu. In 
addition to these instruments of non-Negro origin and use, are 
several musical instruments strung with horsehair and played with 
a bow strung with the same material. These stringed instruments 
which were used at Maiduguri are undoubtedly an intrusion, possibly 
from western Asia. 

If one reflects on the duration and force of Arab culture in 
northern Africa there is no difficulty in assessing the importance of 
a Semitic and Mohammedan Arab culture that has permeated, and 
in places almost obliterated that of the Negro. Arab dynasties 
ruled Egypt from the seventh to the fifteenth centuries, and one must 
remember that the Arabs have, in addition to traits that accompany 
Mohammedanism, a strong foundation of Semitic culture traceable 
to Arabia in pre-Koranic times. 

Moreover, the Arab dynasties of Egypt were in touch with those 
of Baghdad and Persia, and an extension of Arab power is indicated 

Tribes and Their Cultures 463 

by the founding of dynasties in Sennar, Kordofan, and Darfur. In 
addition to the line of migration along the north of Africa, there was 
a steady intrusion of Mohammedan and pre-Mohammedan traits 
across the Sudan. 

The importance of Arabs as culture carriers can scarcely be 
overestimated. It is not improbable that the drawing of silver wire 
and the making of beaten brass work as practiced in Nigeria, together 
with the use of wooden blocks for stamping designs on cloth, as in 
Ashanti, may be traceable through Arab agency to Persia and 
India, where such cultural traits are ancient and well established. 

An examination of typical Negro traits has left no ground for 
supposing that such technique might have evolved independently 
among west African Negroes. In conjunction with intrusive elements 
may be mentioned the use of chain armor and helmets for riders; 
also thick, quilted armor for horses. Photographs of these non-Negro 
traits were made at Potiskum in the courtyard of the Emir of Fika 
(Plate CLIII). Associated with horsemen are the use of greaves 
of metal, a two-edged short sword of Roman pattern, and a throwing- 
iron. This weapon has been described in detail and its types, 
distribution, and possible evolution from ancient and modern 
thro wing-clubs have been discussed (chapter IV, pp. 409, 438). 

Throwing-knives of iron are used in the neighborhood of Lake 
Chad and along the route from Kano to Maiduguri. But the 
weapons have not penetrated the southern Negro culture because 
they are typically associated with warfare in which horses are used. 
The same may be said of armor, a trait that is linked with horses 
and warfare as practiced in the north of Nigeria. 

There is no possibility of tracing to its source every element of 
culture which has intruded into Negro life, but armor for men and 
horses may, I think, be definitely ascribed to Persian origin, with 
Arabs as the carriers of the trait to Africa (B. Laufer, History of 
Chain Mail, Field Mus. Nat. Hist., Anthr. Ser., XIII, No. 2, 1914, 
pp. 237-257). 

In the markets of Ibadan and Ilorin are water coolers and 
pottery lamps (Plate XCVI, Figs. 1, 2, 4, 6) which are derived from 
a northern Mediterranean culture, since they resemble forms used 
in Algeria, Malta, Egypt, and Crete. Such objects may be seen 
for sale in those regions today, and they are among the finds of 
archaeologists in the places mentioned. When dealing with industries 
(chapter IV, p. 411) attention was called to harpoons with detachable 
iron heads and floats; such fishing apparatus was collected from the 

464 Culture Areas of Nigeria 

Munshi and the Buduma, and there is some reason for linking these 
cultural elements with Egypt. 

Among cultural traits that have invaded Nigeria from the 
north and east, either by way of the Mediterranean coast or 
the Sudan, is the use of shafted and tunnelled graves, as among the 
Bolewa and the Yergum (C. K. Meek, I, vol. I, p. 60). Meek also 
attributes to Egypt high-withered cattle, pumpkins, cowpeas, and 
rice. Mummification (loc. cit.) has been included among cultural 
traits from Egypt, but the mere drying and preservation of corpses 
has no necessary connection with Egyptian methods, and drying 
and preserving a king's body is a common and possibly an indigenous 
Negro custom. The soul is thought to be in the blood, and its libera- 
tion is secured by slowly drying the corpse over a fire. Preservation 
of parts of the royal corpse for future ceremonies has been described 
in enumerating traits of Negro culture in general, and no reason 
can be adduced for attributing these customs to an ancient Egyptian 
origin unless the details of technique can be shown to be Egyptian. 

On the contrary, use of a funeral boat in which a chief of the 
Jukun is buried is probably traceable to the Egyptian custom as 
described by James J. Breasted (A History of Egypt, New York, 
1910, p. 176). In a prefatory note to R. S. Seton's article (I) Sir 
H. R. Palmer states that several aspects of the present Jukun 
religion and culture suggest an influence from the Nile Valley. The 
Attah of Idah (south of Lokoja and north of Onitsha) are still buried 
in a funeral boat, a custom which has survived in Bornu even among 
the Moslem Kanembu, whose sheikh is carried to burial in a boat. 

As a non-Negro trait of southern Nigeria, Talbot (IV, vol. II, 
p. 142) calls attention to double ax worship among the Yoruba, 
Bini, Ekoi, and other tribes, and suggests that the cult-axes which 
he illustrates may be related to similar forms of Cretan origin. 

A visit to Ife is convincing of the intrusion of a foreign element 
into Yoruban culture, but to speak of that element as Etruscan is 
assuming what is far from demonstrable; neither is hypothesis 
assisted by postulating a culture derived from the lost Atlantis 
(L. Frobenius, II). For the present, ethnologists will have to be 
content with calling this unknown culture a Mediterranean influence, 
a term which would include cultural traits from Egypt, Carthage, 
Crete, and Rome. This generalizing of traits is more prudent than 
the use of specific terms. 

The existence of sacred groves has been noted as a trait that is 
characteristic of Negro culture; consequently, one cannot claim the 

Tribes and Their Cultures 465 

sacred groves of Ife as an intrusive element. Secretion of objects 
in the bush near Ife is merely part of the general Negro culture of 
southern Nigeria. But, on the contrary, the objects within the groves 
and the equipment of the priests in charge of these sacred symbols 
are distinctly non-Negro in their appearance. This will be conceded 
after inspection of the three priests in their official dress (Plate 
CLIV, Fig. 1) ; the pictures of terra cotta heads taken in the sacred 
grove (Plate CLVII, Figs. 1, 2); and the finely modeled head of 
Lajawa, the messenger of Onis (Plate CLVI, Fig. 1). 

The first shrine visited at Ife was that of Obalufon, first son of 
Oduduwa, the creator. In the shrine, which was a small hut, was 
a clay figure of Obalufon about 50 cm. high, and before this effigy 
were spread small offerings of palm wine, kola nuts, and cowrie 
shells. In the Awni's (ruler's) palace I inspected a cast bronze head 
of Obalufon which was the most remarkable casting seen, not except- 
ing the best work from Benin. 

I was not allowed to touch this head, but noted a preponderance 
of copper in what is presumably an alloy. In this palace was pre- 
served the terra cotta head of Lajawa which bears a distinct resem- 
blance to plaster masks from Greco-Egyptian burials of the first 
and third centuries of the Christian era (Field Museum Collection, 
Nos. 88902 and 88904). H. J. Braunholtz and R. P. Wild have 
described terra cotta heads found in Ashanti. These heads are also 
suggestive of a foreign intrusion into Negro culture. 

The grove of Ogun, patron of the blacksmith's craft, contains 
a large pear-shaped object of ironstone, said to be the hammer 
of the first blacksmith, and near-by is a cylindrical stone called the 
anvil. Over this the remains of a dog were stretched, and I was 
informed that a dog is sacrificed to Ogun twice a year (Plate 
CLV, Fig. 2). Association of ritual with the blacksmith's craft 
is a common feature of Negro culture, but this instance at Ife is 
peculiar in the employment of a special grove and the preservation 
of tools said to belong to the first blacksmith. The groves at Ife 
are a Negro trait with the addition of aspects of a civilization whose 
intrusion has given a well-developed mythology and deism to 
Yoruban culture. In another grove are an anvil-stone and two stone 
crocodiles. Eshu, the devil-stone, is in a densely wooded grove. 
The figure, which is about three feet high, is within a clay wall of 
about the same height. In the Idena grove is the stone statue of 
Olofe-finra wearing a stone collar (Plate CLVI, Fig. 2). The Opa 
Oranyan, that is, the staff of Oranyan the first Alafin or ruler of 

466 Culture Areas of Nigeria 

Oyo, is a rounded, tapering column of stone 3 meters 35 cm. high and 
100 cm. in girth. In this stone are inserted forty-five copper rivets. 
The origin of this stone column, like that of the other stone figures, 
is unknown. 

One of the interesting sights of Ife is a pond covered with duck- 
weed. This water was said to be deep and connected underground 
with a similar pond a few hundred feet away. The guide ruffled 
the surface of the water with his fingers and threw in a little meal 
paste. Immediately, the water became agitated with small and large 
catfish that fed greedily. The catfish is a sacred animal of west 
Africa which was frequently cast in bronze at Benin; neither is the 
pool for sacred catfish the only one of its kind. J. L. Sibley and 
D. Westermann mention such pools in Liberia (Liberia, New and 
Old, London, 1929, p. 76). The catfish pool at Ife is said to have 
been created by Oduduwa, who brought a cock and a calabash of 
sand in order to make dry land in the sea. When the cock scratched, 
he spread the sand, which multiplied until only the pool at Ife was 
left as a remnant of a primordial ocean. 

About a mile from Ife, and on the main road from that town 
to Ibadan, three priests led the way into the bush. The path became 
narrower and the bush more dense until only patches of sunlight 
filtered through the leaves. As we neared the sacred grove the 
priests began a chant that continued until the narrow path led into 
a circular clearing, in the middle of which was a large wooden box. 

Before this the three priests knelt, bowed their heads, and 
clapped their hands five times. The oldest of the priests knelt 
between the two younger ones, who were his sons. The official 
priesthood of this grove is hereditary and distinct from the priest- 
hoods of other groves, each of which has its own acolytes. After 
clapping hands the priests bowed to the ground, cupped their hands, 
and blew into them. They then straightened their bodies, clapped 
hands four times, bent low, and again blew into their hands. 

The oldest priest unfastened a key from his belt from which hung 
a number of leather charms. The lock yielded with difficulty and 
the lid was raised, revealing a number of terra cotta heads which 
the priests took from the bottom of the box and set out for photo- 
graphing (Plate CLVII, Figs. 1, 2). The heads were six in number 
as the picture shows, and at the left end of the row were two terra 
cotta pieces that resembled fragments in the bottom of the box. 

Mr. Adejumo, a native pastor, recalls that thirty years ago com- 
plete terra cotta figures stood upright in the grove. Inspection of 

Tribes and Their Cultures 467 

fragments in the box supports this statement, and the picture shows 
a broken torso. P. A. Talbot (IV, vol. I, p. 277) calls attention to 
Petrie's impression that no bodies are known in connection with the 
heads found by Frobenius (II, vol. I, Plate VII). But my observation 
and the testimony of Adejumo show that bodies have existed. There 
were certainly fragments of arms, legs, and trunks in the box. 

The third and sixth heads from the right probably represent 
Lajawa and Obalufon, because they closely resemble heads so named 
which I photographed in the palace at Ife. The most Negroid head 
is the fourth from the right, and on this the grooves represent a 
scarification similar to certain tribal marks seen today. The face 
of one of my servants, a man of the Bema tribe, near Gombe, was 
cut in this way during infancy (Plate CXIX, Fig. 2). The most 
non-Negroid face is the third from the right, and this object supports 
the view of Petrie (Ancient Egypt, 1914, p. 84) that terra cotta heads 
of Ife "are in every respect close to the pottery heads from the 
foreign quarter at Memphis." 

The dress of the priests is certainly not of Negro origin. The 
miters, the method of wearing white clothing, and the bronze 
staffs, together with the ceremony and the terra cotta heads, all 
represent an intrusive element that has been grafted on the Negro 
custom of guarding sacred objects in forest groves. 

The culture at Ife becomes more understandable when reference 
is made to reports on excavations at Carthage. R. P. Delattre 
describes and illustrates several objects which suggest the origin of 
some non-Negro elements in southern Nigerian religion. 

Delattre shows what he calls "Tete de dieu Carthaginois" (p. 6, 
Fig. 3; p. 24, Fig. 8) in which the miter is like those worn by the 
priests at Ife. This miter closely resembles the atef or crown of 
Osiris. The funerary stelae and statues might well be parental forms 
of those at Ife (p. 21) . The sacred ax is shown by Delattre (Deuxieme 
Semestre des Fouilles, Paris, 1898, Figs. 20, 21). P. A. Talbot's 
references to the ax as a cult object in Nigeria have previously been 
noted, and Delattre's picture of such an ax at Carthage supports 
Talbot's suggestion of a connection between ax-worship in Nigeria 
and Crete. 

Although at present there is no possibility of proving generic 
relationship between the archaeological finds at Carthage and those 
of Ife, one feels that this northern influence may account for the 
lamps, terra cotta heads, pottery vessels, and stelae of the Yoruba. 
Carthage was founded in the latter part of the ninth century B.C. 

468 Culture Areas of Nigeria 

on the site of an older Phoenician colony, and in consideration of 
the constant traffic from north Africa to west Africa by land and sea 
it would be surprising if some cultural influence were not transmitted . 

Reference to R. Cagnat's "Carthage, Timgad, and T£bessa" and 
to the illustrations in F. W. Kelsey's "Excavations at Carthage," 
will indicate the general resemblances between Carthaginian and 
Yoruban culture with respect to the objects mentioned. 

Among the Nigerian traits that are foreign to Negro culture are 
some of European introduction. The brass work of Bida includes 
trays and vessels that are copies of European forms; European dyes 
are used in some places for cloth and baskets; and objects made 
in leather are in many instances imitations of European patterns. 
Sewing machines are sometimes used for stitching cotton clothing 
and articles of leather. 

Ling Roth (V) thinks, as previously noted, that whereas the 
vertical cotton loom may have originated in Egypt in ancient 
times, the horizontal, narrow-band, treadle loom is of Portuguese 

Gathering indigo plants and extracting dyes therefrom, I have 
shown to have a distribution from Sierra Leone to Lake Chad, and 
references from the works of early explorers were given in chapter IV. 
Dyeing of cloth is not a typical Negro trait, though now so widespread 
among west African Negroes. The evidences favor a hypothesis of 
the introduction of indigo dyeing from India to north Africa and from 
Tripoli by caravan trade across the Sahara. Such a view is, I think, 
supported by historical facts, and by botanical evidence respecting 
distribution of the indigo plant (B. Laufer, I). 

The crossbow is usually accepted as a cultural element of southern 
Nigeria which is traceable to Portuguese origin. On the contrary 
a consensus of opinion is against the suggestion that the Portuguese 
introduced casting of bronze and brass. Casting by the lost-wax 
method is not a typical Negro trait and the evidence reviewed in 
chapter IV left the impression that this process might have migrated 
from Egypt. The manufacture of glass is certainly not a trait of 
Negro culture and the isolation of the centers, one at Bida and one 
in Ashanti, suggests introduction from an extraneous source. 

Use of a state umbrella is not an original and typical Negro trait, 
yet among the Yoruba the craft of umbrella-making is in the hands 
of an exclusive guild of workers employed at Oyo (S. Johnson, p. 52). 
Possibly umbrellas were first introduced by Europeans in early days 
of contact, but some evidence is against this theory. 

Tribes and Their Cultures 469 

J. A. Skertchly and A. le HeYisse" emphasize the importance 
of state umbrellas having heraldic devices and pictures of the 
kings' exploits emblazoned on the covers. R. S. Rattray (IV) 
repeatedly refers to umbrellas as part of the regalia of kings and 
the rites of ancestor worship. Figures representing gods have 
umbrellas, and the sacred stools of priests and priestesses are 
carried each under its own umbrella. There is little probability 
that so much ritual and belief have developed in connection with an 
object of European introduction. 

The use of fans of leather and ostrich plumes suggests an Egyptian 
origin, possibly from the Nile Valley, through north Africa, and across 
the Sahara. Adolf Erman (H. M. Tirard's translation of "Life in 
Ancient Egypt," p. 490) calls attention to the use of fans in associa- 
tion with umbrellas in Egypt during the Middle Empire. Therefore 
the possibility must be recognized and the fan and the umbrella 
are factors derived from Egypt and possibly from farther east. 

The cultural traits discussed under the heading "Foreign Elements 
in Negro Culture" have included: 

(1) Factors from Hamitic culture. 

(2) Semitic traits associated with Arab invasions and with 
Mohammedanism . 

(3) Elements from the civilization of ancient Egypt and Carthage. 
The term used to describe a culture of Egypt and north Africa is 
"Mediterranean." This term is found to be sufficiently broad to 
designate a large number of traits whose exact origin is unknown. 

(4) Cultural influence of Europeans. 

The inquiry now turns from the southern Negro culture and its 
intrusive elements to a consideration of the cultural pattern of 
Nigeria, north of 9° N. Lat. The types of life and the elements 
involved in cultures between 9° and 14° N. Lat. constitute what 
is described in the next section as the Northern Culture. 

The Northern Culture 

This culture, which extends from the ninth to the fourteenth 
parallels, contains many of the traits that have been discussed under 
the heading "Foreign Elements in Negro Culture." These traits 
are divisible into those closely associated with Mohammedanism, 
and others conveniently gathered under the name "Mediterranean." 

There is this clear difference between the cultural patterns north 
and south of 9° N. Lat. respectively. South of 9° a Negro culture 

470 Culture Areas of Nigeria 

predominates, but north of 9° the prevailing cultural elements are 
associated with Mohammedanism, the Mediterranean culture, and 
occupations centering in the keeping of camels, horses, and cattle. 

So far, description has been concerned with a basic Negro culture, 
chiefly of southern Nigeria, into which intrusions have entered. 
Now, when approaching a study of cultures in the Northern Prov- 
inces, it is necessary to note a reversal in the importance of the 
cultural elements. North of 9° the importance of Negro traits 
declines while non-Negro cultures predominate. The inquiry is 
therefore concerned with the extent to which a forest culture of 
Negroes has survived in a northward direction, and the manner 
in which the forest culture of the south is gradually attenuated 
with every advance toward the border of the Sahara. 

When proceeding from south to north a traveler has to note that 
the hoe culture of the Negro still persists. But root crops, though 
important, are supplemented by millet, maize, rice, and wheat in 
quantities greater than those existing in a system of Negro cultivation, 
which is usually carried on in forest clearings. Meek notes the use 
of the shaduf in Bornu (I, vol. I, p. 128), a means of irrigation which 
is characteristic of north Africa and the Nile Valley. Terraced 
cultivation is an essential feature of agriculture in the rugged 
central plateau region. But such methods are not known in the 
forest regions occupied by Negroes. 

Among the Hausa, who have considerable Negro blood, there are 
many elements of Negro culture, including alliances between human 
and animal life, together with beliefs in the residence of human 
spirits in plants, animals, and inanimate objects. The combination 
of Negro culture with Mohammedan faith is well illustrated by 
Tremearne's "The Ban of the Bori," while the predominance of 
Negro culture among non-Moslem Hausa such as the Maguzawa is 
appreciated by reference to an article by P. Krusius. 

Meek notes the existence of terms of the Negro classificatory 
system of relationship among the Hausa and the Gwari (I, vol. I, 
p. 237); the blood covenant by sucking blood or by eating a kola 
nut on which the blood of the contracting parties has been smeared 
(op. cit., p. 211) ; also the power of the mother's brother; all of which 
occur in typical Negro society (op. cit., pp. 219-225). These factors 
reported by Meek exemplify the persistence of traits of Negro culture 
in a northward direction, but gradually the establishment of a true 
northern type of culture is observed. The northern patterns include 
elements comprised under Mediterranean, Mohammedan, and Arab 

Tribes and Their Cultures 471 

culture, but in addition some factors not hitherto mentioned have 
to be recorded. 

Northern Nigeria has not a typical camel culture such as that 
possessed by the Tuareg of Asben, the Kababish of Kordofan, the 
Tibbu of Tibesti, and the dwellers in such oases as Fashi and Bilma. 
In Kordofan, for example, the breeding and rearing of camels, 
together with seasonal migrations, are fundamental elements of 
the life of the Kababish. Milk of camels is an important item of 
diet, and the flesh resulting from ceremonial slaughter is eaten at 
weddings, at funerals, and on other ritual occasions. A great industry 
centers in the making of accoutrements, and the hair of camels is 
used for weaving tents and rugs. The branding of camels has an 
important social significance since the marks denoting family owner- 
ship are combined when union of two families is effected by marriage. 
Important references to the camel culture are as follows: C. G. 
Seligman (III), H. A. MacMichael (I, II), and F. R. Rodd. 

All these ethnologists describe a camel culture which is more 
highly developed than that of northern Nigeria. But between the 
fourteenth and twelfth parallels caravans are of great importance in 
the economic life of tribes of the French Niger Territory, from Zinder 
to Tahoua, also along the line from Kano to Maiduguri, and up to 
Kukawa near Lake Chad. Kukawa is a terminus of caravan trade 
by way of Bilma across the Sahara to Tripoli. 

Northern Nigeria has a camel culture which might be described 
as an intrusion of the true Saharan camel culture, and there is 
interest in noting a seasonal distribution of this intrusive culture, 
which advances southward with the dry season and retreats at the 
onset of rains. Notwithstanding the importance of the present 
camel culture of the Sahara the use of camels for transport probably 
does not antedate the year 200 a.d. F. R. Rodd (pp. 206-208) gives 
a summary of the historical evidence bearing on this subject. 

With the camel culture is a horse culture which has important 
foci at Sokoto and in Bornu. These provinces are centers of horse- 
breeding, and horses are of importance between the tenth and four- 
teenth parallels of latitude. In former days horses were even more 
numerous because of warfare in the Northern Provinces. Every 
Sultan had large cavalry regiments and bodyguards, which were 
the chief units used in combat. With horses are associated the 
occupations of the blacksmith and the leather worker. 

Horses were represented for the first time on Egyptian monu- 
ments of the eighteenth dynasty, and they are said to have been 

472 Culture Areas of Nigeria 

introduced between the Middle and the New Empires. Primarily 
horses were used for drawing chariots and not for riding (A. Erman, 
Life in Ancient Egypt, London, 1894, p. 490), but Hannibal used 
Numidian cavalry in 217 B.C. These facts, combined with move- 
ments of Arabs along north Africa and the Sudan, make the presence 
and importance of horses in Nigeria understandable. 

A journey along the twelfth parallel from Lake Chad to Kano, 
and from that town northward to Zinder, then westward along the 
fourteenth parallel, shows the importance of transport by oxen 
(Plate CXLV, Figs. 1, 2). In fact, a route exists along which camels, 
horses, and oxen may be seen in the course of a day; but climatic 
factors, especially rainfall, have a limiting influence. 

Camels cannot thrive too far south because of increasing moisture. 
Furthermore, horses and oxen are restricted to areas where water 
can be obtained, though these animals show remarkable adaption 
to drought. The southern expansion of the horse culture is checked 
by two factors: firstly, the existence of dense forests in which horses 
would be useless; and secondly, the presence of the tsetse fly. There- 
fore, there exists a spatial distribution of those traits which are 
associated with camels, oxen, and horses, and this distribution is 
determined by climatic and biological factors. 

Important changes are to be noted in connection with the keeping 
of cattle from the fourteenth parallel southward. Use of oxen for 
transport gradually merges into a pastoral culture, such as that of 
the migratory Fulani, who drive their animals from one region to 
another. Meek (I, vol. I, p. 118) distinguishes five breeds of cattle 
and ascribes the high-withered animals to an Egyptian origin. The 
animal shown in Plate CXLIV, Fig. 2, resembles those of Egyptian 
paintings. Among the Fulani the keeping of cattle is not merely 
an occupation without ceremonial importance. Cattle are said to be 
a gift of the water spirit, and at the death of the owner division is 
made according to rules. Elder brothers receive the black cattle 
and younger brothers take the white animals (Wilson-Haffenden, I). 

E. A. Brackenbury gives some details of the ceremonial element 
connected with cattle-keeping. Milk is used and butter is made, 
but cattle are seldom eaten. Slaughter of cattle and eating of meat 
occur on such ceremonial occasions as weddings, naming children, 
and Mohammedan festivals. Only males herd cattle, with which 
they are very intimate, calling the animals by name and showing 
the affection which is characteristic of some Nilotic tribes; also the 
Bahima and the Masai. 

Tribes and Their Cultures 473 

If rain is needed the headman in charge of a Fulani kraal strips 
himself naked and stands among the cattle, whose horns he anoints 
with milk. Sometimes a mallam is employed to walk seven times 
round the kraal repeating texts from the Koran. This pastoral 
culture is evidently different from the mere use of oxen for transport. 
The Fulani employ young bulls as transport animals, yet some of 
the ceremonial aspects of a typical cattle culture are operative. 

The flogging ceremony witnessed near Shendam (Plate CXXXVI, 
Fig. 1) has been photographed by G. M. Haardt (National Geo- 
graphic Magazine, XLIX, p. 679) at Zinder, four hundred miles 
north of Shendam, and further evidence shows the rite to have 
been adopted by various Fulani tribes as part of initiation ceremonies 
for boys, as a test of competitive endurance between two different 
Fulani tribes, and as part of the dancing and games of a religious 
festival. A similar ceremony is practiced in the Province of Sennar, 
eastern Sudan. The rite seen near Shendam is one which qualifies 
youths for marriage, and the girls who are seen standing near are 
the prospective brides of the competitors. Further information 
relating to this whipping ceremony and other Fulani customs may 
be found in several books and articles, noted in the bibliography 
under the names of L. N. Reed, E. A. Brackenbury, J. R. Wilson- 
Haffenden, H. R. Palmer, G. Vieillard, and G. W. Webster. 

In the northern culture a sporadic occurrence of Negro traits 
which are characteristic of the southern forest culture is noticeable, 
but these elements are overlaid by a Mohammedan Arab culture. 
And in addition we have to note for the northern regions the 
importance of camels, cattle, and horses. 

There yet remains for study a plateau region whose culture has 
not been considered. This elevation stretches along the ninth 
parallel, forming a barrier between the northern and the southern 
culture areas. 

The Plateau Barrier 

Stretching across Nigeria between the parallels 9° and 10° N. 
Lat. is a plateau region that extends from Yola in the east, through 
Bauchi, Nassarawa, Zaria, and Kontagora. Elevations rise in some 
places to a height of six thousand feet, while the general character 
is one of ruggedness and inaccessibility. Consequently, in this region 
exist many cultural pockets, which preserve modes of life showing 
traits that are probably of an early Negro character. 

There are in the plateau region few intrusive factors from 
Mohammedanism or from any other source. The so-called pagan 

474 Culture Areas of Nigeria 

tribes, a name which has no ethnological connotation beyond 
denoting the absence of Mohammedanism and Christianity, have 
for long periods taken refuge in these sequestered highlands, where 
they have been free from the domination of Negro kingdoms of the 
south and Mohammedan aggression from the north. Probably 
this plateau region of Nigeria is culturally and historically a part 
of a similar belt extending westward into the Northern Provinces 
of the Gold Coast (R. S. Rattray, VI), and eastward to the Nuba of 

My only personal contact with plateau tribes was among the 
Angas who inhabit hillside villages near Pankshin (Plates CXXIV, 
Fig. 2; CXXVIII; CXXIX, Fig. 2). At Maiduguri I photographed 
a man from Gwozo (Plate CXXIX, Fig. 1), and at Potiskum, north 
of the plateau, two men of the Keri-Keri tribe (Plate CXXVII). 

In most of these plateau tribes there is a dominant proportion 
of Negro blood, but the Gwozo and Keri-Keri, and to a lesser extent 
the Angas, show physical elements which modify the coarser Negro 
features. Thus, modification of the physical traits of the Negro 
occurs in the direction of more slender build, reduction of the breadth 
of the nose, and modification of the thickness and eversion of the lips. 

The difficulty of classifying the languages of the plateau tribes 
is realized from Meek's statements, yet the majority of the tongues 
spoken in the high plateau are included in one or another of the 
divisions named western, middle, or central Sudanic. Like many 
other plateau languages, that of the Angas is an isolating tongue, 
but its precise relationships to other tongues are not known (Meek, 
I, vol. I, pp. 137-139). 

The clothing of plateau tribes is either absent or scanty. The 
dress of the Gwozo man photographed at Maiduguri consisted solely 
of a loin covering and a cap of hide. The Keri-Keri men of Potis- 
kum wore no more than loin coverings of leather, so resembling 
plateau tribes. Women of the Angas tribe wore leaves before and 
behind if married, but if unmarried the leaves were worn only on 
the buttocks. Most of the Angas men had some clothing, if only a 
few fragments of trade cloth. The tribal scar of Angas males is a 
raised, broad cicatrice which extends from the zygomatic arch to 
the chin on both sides of the face (Plate CXXIV, Fig. 2). 

Tremearne (III, p. 104) further illustrates the scanty dress of 
plateau tribes. His photograph shows a Kagoro woman and an 
Attakka woman each wearing an appendage of palm fiber on the 
buttocks. "When a girl is married, her mother removes her girdle 

Tribes and Their Cultures 475 

and a small branch or bunch of leaves is hung in front." Tremearne 
also shows the wearing of a lip disk by an Attakka woman (p. 110). 
In the region of Jos I saw several men who were naked except for 
the penis sheath, which is worn by the Berom and many other tribes 
listed by Meek (I, vol. I, p. 41). Oric Bates (pp. 113, 119, 122, 148) 
proves that the penis sheath was worn by predynastic Egyptians 
and Libyans. 

Scarification is a typically Negro trait which is shared by the 
plateau tribes, who have their own distinctive patterns. But other 
forms of decoration, such as nose pins, lip disks, bunches of leaves, 
and penis sheaths, are not typically Nigerian. To these traits of 
the plateau region may be added the use of the sling as a weapon. 

Probably traits which are found among a sequestered people 
who have been isolated for a long time are remnants of an old culture, 
and if this is true the plateau tribes preserve those traits, which, 
though formerly important in pre-Negro and Negro culture, are now 
obsolete or are tending to become so. 

The approach to villages of the Angas tribe led up steep narrow 
paths. There was, however, nothing but the assurance of the guide 
that human habitations would be reached, for not a sign of dwellings 
could be seen. The hillsides were terraced for cultivation, and on 
the broad ledges, which were supported by stones, millet was grown. 
The Angas also cultivate tobacco; this they smoke in large pipes, 
some of which are made entirely of iron forged by local blacksmiths 
of the tribe. No poultry or pigs, but only sheep, goats, and cattle 
were observed. I was informed that the Fulani sometimes employ 
the Angas as herdsmen. Among the hills were ponies, but I am not 
sure that their riders were of the Angas tribe. 

An Angas village consists of a small group of cylindrical clay 
huts placed close together (Plate CXXVIII, Figs. 1, 2). Women 
wear aprons of leaves and use red coloring matter on their own 
bodies and those of their children. When meeting men of their 
tribe, women and girls crouch to the ground. 

A forge was seen, but apparently it had not been used recently, 
though the long-handled bellows was present. The apparent disuse 
of the forge is explained by Meek (I, vol. I, p. 149). Iron-working 
among the Angas is a seasonal craft, and in this occupation occurs 
considerable ceremonial of a kind which is in keeping with that of 
the blacksmith's craft among Negroes generally. 

At one point a warning was given against entering a hut contain- 
ing several large wooden drums, and an explanation was supplied 

476 Culture Areas of Nigeria 

to the effect that spirits of dead chiefs lived in the drums. I obtained 
without difficulty a drum of the same kind which was owned by a 
living person, and apparently the drum of a chief becomes sacred 
only after his death, at which time the instrument is preserved in 
a hut for drums. 

The dances in progress among the Angas, but not necessarily 
performed entirely by Angas men, are illustrated (Plate CXXX, 
Figs. 1, 2). The chief instruments used were side-blown horns, 
which gave deep mellow tones, reed pipes, and for the principal 
dancers skin-covered drums. 

We may now assemble additional data relating to some of the 
plateau tribes, whose cultural traits can be compared with those 
of other tribes to the north and south of the plateau region. 

The government of the Angas, and of plateau tribes in general, 
is of the unconsolidated type, and in normal times the headman of 
a village is of primary importance, though in warfare there may be 
a leader who, after hostilities, retains at least a nominal headship 
of the tribe. Meek says of the head of the Angas tribe, that as 
president of local groups he has few prerogatives, and that his duties 
as head of a village are more important. There is no doubt that the 
plateau tribes have not shared in the elaborate political organization 
of the Negro, with its ideas of exalted kingship, supported by a 
political organization of chiefs and military leaders. There are, 
however, among plateau tribes, chiefs who are endowed with auto- 
cratic powers which make them more than nominal rulers (Meek, 
I, vol. I, p. 250). 

Meek notes among the Angas tribe ceremonial cannibalism, 
divination, beliefs in omens, collective responsibility whereby a 
relative may be tried instead of the accused, rain-making, and 
swearing an oath on a sacred object. In addition to these Negro 
traits, all of which are common in southern Nigeria, Meek says 
(I, vol. I, p. 193), "Among the pagan tribes first cousin marriage 
would be regarded as an incestuous union, the cousins being classi- 
fied in the relationship system as brothers and sisters." The Angas 
used to have head-hunting customs which were associated with 
preparation for marriage, and a youth had to prove his manhood by 
taking a head. The details of head-hunting among the plateau tribes, 
also the occurrence of cannibalism and head-hunting, separately, 
or conjointly, are noted by Meek (I, vol. II, p. 48). 

The Angas have initiation rites for boys, but these ceremonies 
do not necessarily coincide with puberty. The plateau tribes practice 

Tribes and Their Cultures 477 

circumcision as a principal rite in initiation ceremonies; these rites 
require that boys shall be secluded in a sacred spot where they have 
to endure beatings and privation (Meek, I, vol. II, p. 86). 

In religion the plateau tribes show deification of natural phe- 
nomena, animistic beliefs, reliance on prayers made to ancestral 
spirits, belief in reincarnation of dead ancestors in infants, and 
credence in the reappearance of Dodo, a spirit of the founder of the 
tribe, who appears as a masked figure at the initiation of boys. 

Additional light is thrown on the cultural traits of the plateau 
tribes by perusal of H. F. Mathews' article. Of the language of 
the Nungu, Mathews says that a native traveling twenty miles from 
his own village would have difficulty in making himself understood, 
a statement which again emphasizes the complexity of the linguistic 

Women of the Nungu tribe are unclothed, and Mathews (Plate I, 
Fig. 2) shows a Nungu woman wearing a nose pin, and a plug in her 
lower lip. The rawhide pouch for carrying a baby on the mother's 
back is like that worn by women of the Angas tribe. Mathews notes 
the use of sacred groves for head-hunting trophies, the presence of 
cannibalism, scarification, the use of bows and poisoned arrows, 
an iron knife with a ring-grip, the employment of the bull-roarer, 
side-blown horns of antelopes, reed pipes, and end flutes. Dancers 
wear coarse netting costumes. 

Meek's article (II) deals with a group of plateau tribes near 
Zaria and among these are the Katab, the Ataka, and the Kagoro. 
He notes the following traits: a definite classificatory system of 
relationships, with class names; agriculture but no industries; and 
ideas of reincarnation with private and public cults of ancestors. 
He further observes the presence of head-hunting and the depositing 
of heads in the house of skulls, wearing of a buttock ornament 
by women, four patrilineal clans each of which is exogamous, and a 
territorial grouping that corresponds with the clan grouping; also 
taboos on certain animals and plants, but these do not appear to 
be closely connected with clan exogamy. Members of the crocodile 
clan regard the animal as a brother with whom they can play un- 
harmed. Clan members have to bury a dead crocodile, and a taboo 
against their touching a piece of crocodile skin is operative. 

This collection of evidence bearing on the culture of plateau tribes 
indicates that the main traits are those of the Negro culture of 
southern Nigeria, but without the elaborate development of Negro 
political organization. Among the plateau tribes the classificatory 

478 Culture Areas of Nigeria 

system of relationships is used, there are initiation rites, ancestor 
worship, animism, and many more traits that are closely associated 
with Negro culture, but there is an absence of those elements that 
are typical of Mohammedan and Mediterranean influences. 

Peculiar and distinctive traits of the plateau tribes are the 
types of genital covering, ornaments, head-hunting, terraced cultiva- 
tion, methods of carrying infants, and other customs that are at 
once noticeable as aberrations from those traits which at present 
are widely characteristic of Negro culture. But fundamentally 
the culture of the plateau tribes is that of Negroes with the existence 
of peculiar traits, some of which, for example, terraced cultivation, 
are special adaptations to plateau conditions, while others possibly 
represent old elements of pre-Negro or early Negro culture. 

Geographical and Historical Determinants 

The map showing my expeditionary route indicates that the area 
visited was situated between the coastal region (4° N. Lat.) and 
Tahoua in the southern Sahara (14° N. Lat.). 

Chapter I described the gradual transitions from dense forests 
of the south, through parkland country to semi-desert, and finally 
to true desert at the northward limit of the journey. It is also clear 
that these regions of Nigeria are only a part of ecological zones, with 
corresponding cultures, which stretch east and west of Nigeria itself. 

Between 4° and 6° N. Lat. is situated the densest of the forest 
regions, a land of creeks and deltas where heat and moisture combine 
to form a congested forest growth. This is the home of the true 
Negro and his culture, the traits of which have been analyzed. 

After 8° has been passed on the northern journey a noticeable 
change occurs in the character of the country, which, in the region 
of Bida, for example, is of the parkland variety. 

The culture of the Negro gradually gives place to the typical 
northern culture comprising all those elements that are grouped 
under Mohammedanism, along with many factors of the Medi- 
terranean type, and the addition of traits that are associated with 
camels, horses, and oxen. But through this northern culture plainly 
runs the Negro substratum. 

Between the cultures of the north and the south, which are 
divided at 9° N. Lat., extends the plateau region, which passes 
out of Nigeria westward into northern Dahomey, Togoland, and 
Ashanti, and eastward into Cameroon. In the plateau are certain 
traits not associated with the Negro culture of southern Nigeria. 

Tribes and Their Cultures 479 

Between 10° and 12° N. Lat. is a cultural belt characterized by 
employment of horses, camels, and oxen. This region extends 
westward into the French Sudan and continues to the coast; while 
the easterly extension passes across Darfur and Kordofan, thence 
through Sennar to the Red Sea. 

North of 12° occurs a noticeable thinning of the bush, which has 
almost ceased to exist at 14° N. Lat., where only a few prickly 
acacias and some coarse grass may be seen. This borderland of the 
Sahara stretches through the northern sections of Wadai and Darfur. 

Although there is reason to believe that the theories of geo- 
graphical determinism have been overemphasized when used to 
explain all the cultures of the world, a strong argument exists in 
favor of geographical determinism so far as Nigeria is concerned. 
The nature of the ecological regions indicates that these have 
determined the extent of country over which certain traits could 

Each trait has extended and forced its way into a cultural 
matrix to which it was a foreign element, neither has the trait 
ceased to penetrate until geographical conditions have become 
prohibitive. Climatic conditions have determined the possible 
aspects of a trait; for example, the gradual transitions from mere 
transportation by oxen in the semi-desert to a well-developed 
pastoral trait, as among the nomadic Fulani of the parklands. 

Geographical determinism has played an important part, not 
only in selecting traits and delimiting them, but also in influencing 
the historical processes themselves (chapter III). The track across 
Africa along the line of Kordofan, Darfur, and the French Sudan has 
undoubtedly been a corridor for mass movements, some of which 
were probably early Hamitic migrations from the northeast of Africa. 

Some incursions have brought cultural and somatic influences 
from the civilization of the Nile Valley, while there has been a con- 
stant impact of cultural elements and racial characteristics from 
Egypt and farther east, along north Africa and across the Sahara. 

In the open spaces of northern Nigeria and its lateral extensions 
great foci of culture have been established, notably in the bend of 
the Niger, also at Sokoto, Katsina, Kano, Zaria, and in Bornu. 
In such centers have developed religious creeds, laws, political 
organizations, and handicrafts, all of which have ceaselessly spread 
to the limits of their adaptability. 

The open country of the north has allowed a free movement of 
warriors and peaceful immigrants alike, and this northern pressure, 

480 Culture Areas of Nigeria 

combined with the natural advantages of the forest for the elements 
of Negro culture, has tended to restrict the most characteristic traits 
of this culture to the densely wooded regions of the south. More- 
over, the topography of the plateau belt lying between the forests 
of the south and the open parkland and semi-desert of the north, 
has preserved early types of Negro culture. 

For four centuries European influences have intruded, especially 
from the coast, until all native tribes are under political control to 
varying degrees. Such native institutions as head-hunting, canni- 
balism, secret societies, human sacrifice, and mutilations as punish- 
ment, have been prohibited, but not always with success. 

Yet despite direct prohibition of some of the factors which are 
fundamental to the indigenous culture, there is on the part of the 
British government a sympathetic control of an indirect kind through 
native rulers and their legal codes, so far as these are compatible 
with justice and humanity. European cultural influences have 
expressed themselves in a modification of native arts and crafts. 
But beneath this veneer of European civilization survives an indige- 
nous culture which still flourishes vigorously in many localities. 

The collation of factual ethnological material relating to Nigeria 
has been considerable, and the importance of this in practical 
problems of education and administration is unquestionable. Yet 
a new method of approach is open, especially to those who have 
the advantage of long and intimate contact with Nigerians. 

If anthropological ideals are to be completely fulfilled, inquiries 
in Nigeria will now take a closer psychological and social aspect. 
Of the structure and operation of ancient tribal standards of conduct 
much is known, and indigenous forms of social control are fairly 
well understood. But we have no adequate records actually to show 
the effect of European education and control on the thoughts and 
actions of individuals of various tribes, languages, and cultures 
within Nigeria. 

The general effects of European contacts with Nigerian natives 
are observable in economic and social life; but a more intimate 
psychological study of case records is desirable to give point to 
general impressions, which by themselves may be misleading. What 
is the life history of individuals, male and female, who pass through 
school? Where do they go on leaving school? What have they 
learned, and in what way is the knowledge applied? How many 
who pass through schools play a useful part in their own society? 
And what number drift away to form cheap labor for Europeans? 

Tribes and Their Cultures 481 

Ethnologists who follow the pages of "Africa" will realize the 
importance of problems of adjustment. Administrative difficulties 
involve questions of the education of natives with a view to fostering 
self-government, the selection of a curriculum, and the adoption of 
a vernacular language, to be widely taught and used so as to make 
inter-tribal communication possible. Moreover, the problem of 
industrial education of a kind which will utilize natural aptitudes 
of the Negro is important. 

In solving one social problem another of a more serious kind may 
be created. When education has been given and assimilated, and 
following the adoption of common languages to replace different 
dialects, problems of franchise and self-government will arise. 
Education and linguistic unity will give a sense of cohesion to tribes 
that are not now coordinated. 

Welfare work and medical research will lower mortality and 
morbidity at all ages among African tribes, with whom Europeans 
can never compete numerically. The Nigerian census for 1931 
indicates a 7 per cent increase in the native population since the year 
1921. The standard of production will be raised through improved 
agriculture, animal husbandry, and industrial inventions, so that the 
increasing population will not unduly press on the means of 

Naturally, therefore, Nigerian administrators will be confronted 
with demands for wider political rights, and a claim to autonomous 
government will be advanced. The result of present racial contacts, 
politically, socially, and industrially, cannot be foreseen. The Negro 
is too adaptable and sturdy to decline from purely psychological 
causes; moreover, his services are indispensable for the economic 
development of tropical Africa. How then will the adjustment be 
made between the rival claims of Africans and intruding Europeans? 

At present no answer is possible. But administrators know from 
experience that the efficiency of adjustment will depend on a sym- 
pathetic use of the data derived from historical and ethnological 
research. To understand the past is to explain the present, and pure 
ethnology will always be a desirable introduction to investigations 
of a psychological and sociological kind. Therefore, this report is 
presented in the hope that it will prove not only of academic interest 
but of practical value to those who are concerned with educational 
and administrative work in Nigeria. 


Abadie, M. 

La colonie du Niger. Paris, 1927. 

Abraham, R. C. 

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Ainslie, J. R. 

Physiography of Southern Nigeria and Its Effect on the Forest Flora. Oxford, 

Ajisafe, A. K. 

Laws and Customs of the Yoruba. London and Lagos, 1924. 

Alexander, B. 

From the Niger to the Nile. 2 vols. New York and London, 1907. 

Alexander, D. 

Dubbo-Dubbo, or Notes on Punch and Judy as Seen in Bornu. Man, 1910, 
No. 85. 

Alldridge, T. J. 

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Allen, W. and Thomson, T. R. H. 

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Trotter. 2 vols. London, 1848. 

Arnett, E. J. 

I. The Rise of the Sokoto Fulani. Kano, 1929. 

II. The Census of Nigeria, 1931. Jour. Afr. Soc, XXXII, 1933, pp. 398-404. 


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Baikie, W. B. 

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Balfour, H. 

I. "Thunderbolt" Celts from Benin. Man, 1903, No. 102. 

II. Origin of West African Crossbows. Jour. Afr. Soc, VIII, 1909, pp. 337-356. 

III. Modern Brass Casting in West Africa. J.R.A.I., XL, 1910, pp. 525-528. 

IV. Notes on a Collection of Ancient Stone Implements from Ejura, Ashanti. 
Jour. Afr. Soc, XII, 1912, pp. 1-16. 

V. Ceremonial Paddle of the Kalahari of Southern Nigeria. Man, 1917, No. 44. 

VI. Occurrence of "Cleavers" of Lower Palaeolithic Type in Northern Nigeria. 
Man, 1934, No. 25. 

VII. The Tandu Industry in Northern Nigeria and Its Affinities Elsewhere. 
Essays presented to C. G. Seligman, London, 1934. 

Banfield, A. W. 

Dictionary of the Nupe Language. Shonga, Northern Nigeria, 1914. 

Bargery, G. P. 

I. A Hausa Phrase Book. Oxford, 1924. 

II. Dictionary of the Hausa Language. Oxford, 1933. 

Barth, H. 

Travels and Discoveries in North and Central Africa. 5 vols. London, 1857. 
Many well-indexed references to leather work of Agades, Kano, Sokoto, and 
Timbuktu; also weaving and dyeing. 

Barton, G. A. 

Semitic and Hamitic Origins. Philadelphia, 1934. 


Bibliography 483 

Basden, G. 
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Bates, O. 
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Batty, R. B. 
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Bauer, F. 

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III. Wooden Roulettes for Impressing Patterns on Pottery. Man, 1934, No. 

Brockelmann, C. 

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Buchanan, A. 

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Both are popular but useful descriptions of Saharan culture. 

Buchner, M. 

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484 Culture Areas of Nigeria 


Fulani Emirates. London, 1909. 

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Calvert, A. F. 
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Carbou, H. 
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Cardinall, A. W. 
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I. Mission Chari lac Tchad 1902-1904. Paris, 1905. 

II. L'Afrique Centrale Francaise. Paris, 1907. 

Clapperton, H. 
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Benin to Soccattoo. London, 1829. 

Clifford, Sir H. 
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Cole, W. 
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Cust, R. 

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Dalzel, A. 
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Daniel, F. de F. 

I. Note on a Gong of Bronze from Katsina. Man, 1929, No. 113. 

II. An Agricultural Implement from Sokoto. Man, 1931, No. 47. 

III. The Regalia of Katsina, Northern Provinces of Nigeria. Jour. Air. Soc, 
XXXI, 1932, pp. 80-83. 

Dapper, D. 

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Dayrell, E. 

I. Folk Stories from Southern Nigeria. London, 1910. 

II. Ikom Folk Stories from Southern Nigeria. J.R.A.I., Occasional Papers, 
No. 3, London, 1913. 

Debevoise, M. K. and N. C. 
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Bibliography 485 

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Delafosse, M. 

I. Manuel de langue Haoussa. Paris, 1901. 

II. Account of the Fulani with Comments by H. R. Palmer. Jour. Afr. Soc, 
XIII, 1913, pp. 195-200. 

III. The Negroes of Africa. Trans. F. Fligelman, Washington, 1931. 

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Desplagnes, L. 
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Downes, R. M. 
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Drexel, A. 

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II. Kann das Ful als hamitische Sprache gelten? Festschrift, P. W. Schmidt, 
Vienna, 1928, pp. 45-60. 

Duggan, E. de C. 
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1932, pp. 173-182. 

Duncan, J. 
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Dupuis-Yakouba, A. 

I. Notes sur Tombouctou. Revue d'Ethnographie et de Sociologie, V, 1914, 
pp. 248-263. 

II. Industries et principales professions des habitants de la region de 
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Dwyer, P. M. 
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Dybowski, J. 
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Elgee, C. H. 
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Ellis, A. B. 

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El Bekri 

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Falconer, J. D. 

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486 Culture Areas of Nigeria 


Some Notes on the Kwolla District and Its Tribes. Jour. Afr. Soc, X, 1910, 
pp. 16-42, 213-221. 

Fletcher, A. S. 
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Fligelman, F. 

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1932, pp. 214-248. 


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Freeman, R. A. 
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Frobenius, L. 

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II. The Voice of Africa. 2 vols. London, 1913. 

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Gaden, H. and Verneau, R. 
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Galway, H. L. 
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Geary, Sir W. N. M. 
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Gennep, A. van 

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II. Recherches sur les poteries peintes de l'Afrique du nord. Harvard African 
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Germann, P. 
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Granville, R. K. 
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Guy, M. C. 
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Hagen, K. 
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Bibliography 487 

Hager, F. 
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Hambly, W. D. 
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I. Notes on Yauri, Nigeria. J.R.A.I., LX, 1930, pp. 283-334. 

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Joyce, T. A. 

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Many Publications on Nigerian Languages. These include readings, grammars, 
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Well-indexed references to weaving, dyeing, and other handicrafts of Morocco. 

Mecklenburg, Duke of 
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Meek, C. K. 

I. The Northern Tribes of Nigeria. 2 vols. Oxford, 1925. Iron work of 
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I. The Languages of West Africa. London, 1913. 

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Milburn, S. 

Magic and Charms of Ijebu Province, Southern Nigeria. Man, 1932, No. 194. 

Millson, A. 
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Palmer, Sir H. R. 

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Abeokuta, 413 

Abomey, 391 

Acacias, 479 

Accra, 392 

Adamaua, 413, 416 

Administration, 481 

Agades, 393, 394, 420, 421, 437 

Agate, 435 

Age grades, 452 

Agriculture, of Negroes, 450-451 ; irriga- 
tion and terracing, 470, 475; see 
Maize, Millet, Peanuts, Wheat, Yams 

Air, 395, 435; see Asben 

Alafin of Oyo, 465 

Albinos, 397 

Algeria, 376, 379, 393, 403, 423, 435, 
436, 463 

Altar at Benin, 401-403; see Groves, 
Sacrifice, Shrines 

Amulets, see Charms 

Ancestor worship, 432, 455, 469, 476; 
see Altar, Kingship, Reincarnation, 
Religion, Sacrifice 

Angas tribe, 379, 408, 410, 422, 431, 

Angola, 373, 406, 428, 450, 452 

Animal husbandry, 451 

Animism, 457, 478 

Anthropometry, 386 

Anvil, 408; see Iron 

Arabia, 385 

Arabs, 401; as culture carriers, 462-463; 
as historians, 387, 392; invasions by, 
445; Shuwa, 428, 443; see Koran, 
Mohammedans, Semites 

Archaeology, 379-383, 398, 434, 444; 
of Ife, 466-468 

Architecture, 451, 461 

Area of Nigeria, 375 

Armenoid type, 389 

Armor, chain, 463 

Arm rings, 434 

Arrows, see Bows 

Arts, 399-439; Mohammedan, 460; of 
Negroes, 438; and ritual, 407; see 

Asben, 388, 389, 394, 407, 434; see Air, 

Ashanti, 391, 427, 432-434, 453, 456, 
465, 468, 478 

Ashur-nasir-pal, 405 

Asia, 444; gold supply of, 436; iron- 
working in, 405; racial origins in, 443; 
see Arabs, Hamites, History, Migra- 

Assyrians, 405 

Attakka tribe, 474 

Avunculate, 452 

Awni of Ife, 465 

Ax, of stone, 380; sacred, 464, 467 

Baby carried in hide pouch, 477 

Bagam, Cameroon, 400 

Baghdad, 462 

Baghirmi, 393 

Bahima, 472 

Baikie, explorer, 396 

Bamenda tribe, Cameroon, 428 

Bantu, languages, 447; Negroes, 385 

Barbar races, 389 

Barber's outfit, 422 

Bark cloth, 450 

Basketry, 418-420, 450 

Battell, Andrew, 406 

Bauchi plateau, 375, 379, 383, 388, 394, 
397, 446, 473 

Baya Seyarum, 422, 428 

Bazaars, 462; see Markets 

Beads, 432, 437; see Glass, Personal 

Beecroft, John, 395, 396 

Bello, Sultan of Sokoto, 396 

Bellows, 403, 407, 408, 475; see Glass, 
Iron, Metals, Silver 

Bema tribe, 467 

Benin, 376, 380, 391, 395, 401-403, 453; 
see Bini, Ivory, Kingship, Metals, 

Benue River, 380, 396, 397; see Explora- 

Berbers, 445; see Algeria, Morocco 

Berom tribe, 475 

Bida, 376, 391, 397, 403, 409, 429, 443, 
460; glass made at, 432; silver of, 
436; wood-carving of, 427 

Bilma Oasis, 390, 393, 395, 471; see 
Exploration, History, Sahara, Salt 

Bini tribe, 426, 443 

Biological factors, 378; see Ecology, 
Rainfall, Tsetse fly 

Black Sea, iron found near, 405 

Blacksmith, itinerant, 411; silver- 
smiths, 437; see Iron, Metals, Silver 

Blood, brothers, 453; covenant, 470; 
libations, 380; sacrifice, 403 

Bolewa tribe, 389, 419, 464; pottery of, 
326; see Potiskum 

Bonny River, 376, 392 

Borassus palm, 418 

Bori dancing, 461; see Demons, Spirits 

Bornu, 385, 388, 389, 393, 397, 410, 
441, 464 

Bottles, of hide, 422; see Leather 

Bows, 410; see Crossbow, Hunting, 

Branding of camels, 471 

Brass, 403; wire leg ornaments, 437; see 
Benin, Bronze, Metals, Personal orna- 

British African Association, 393, 395 




Bronze, 465; castings in, 400; staffs at 
Ife, 467; see Benin, Cire perdu, 
Copper, Tin 

Buduma tribe, 397, 410, 411, 428, 464; 
baskets made by, 419; language of, 
377; see Baya Seyarum, Chad 

Bull-roarers, 397, 457, 477 

Bulls, for transport, 473; see Fulani, 

Bushmen, language of, 444; physique of, 

Bussa Rapids, 395 

Butter of Fulani tribe, 472; see Shea- 

Buzu tribe, 409, 434; see French Niger 

Calabashes, 450; see Gourds, Wood- 

Camels, 399, 438, 448, 470, 478; history 
of in Africa, 471; Kababish, Tibbu, 
Tuareg tribes, 471 

Cameroon, 375, 376, 385, 410, 428, 
448, 452 

Camwood, 458 

Cannibalism, 453, 476 

Canoes, 411, 412, 451 

Carchemish, 405 

Carthage, 382, 464, 467; see Phoenicians 

Catfish, sacred, 466 

Cattle, 379, 451, 470; Egyptian, 464; 
Fulani, 472-473; see Bulls, Oxen 

Celts, 379; in agriculture, 381; pulver- 
ized and drunk, 381; as "thunder- 
bolts," 380; see Archaeology 

Census of Nigeria, 481 

Chad, Lake, 375, 385, 388, 393, 397, 
409, 412, 428, 463, 472; see Baya 
Seyarum, Buduma 

Charms, 422, 436, 461; see Personal 

Christianity, 474 

Circumcision, 451, 459; see Initiation 

Cire-perdu process, 400, 435; see 
Bronze, Silver 

Classificatory system, 478; see Cross 
cousins, Social organization 

Climate, 375-378, 472, 478; see Geog- 
raphy, Rainfall 

Clitoridectomy, 459 

Cloth, beaten, 414, 417; imported, 474; 
stamped with designs, 463; see Dyes, 
Indigo, Spinning, Weaving 

Clothing, 461; leather, 422; leaves used 
as, 474; of plateau tribes, 474; see 
Cloth, Leather, Weaving 

Congo, 376, 406, 413, 428, 439, 457 

Copper, 400, 436, 465, 466; see Metals 

Coptic times, 405 

Cotton cultivated, 416; see Cloth, 
Clothing, Dyeing, Ginning, Spin- 
ning, Weaving 

Cowpeas, 464 

Cowrie shells, 419, 430, 457, 465 

Craft guilds, 399, 403, 451; see Benin, 

Glass, Iron 
Crete, 463, 464, 467; see Mediterranean 

Crocodile, clan, 477; design, 428; 

harpooned, 411; society, 452; stone, 

Crossbows, 410 

Cross cousins, marriage of, 452 
Cross River, 380 
Culture, areas, 386; foci of, 377, 399; 

physique and language, 446-447; see 

Geography, History 
Cushites, 389 

Daggers, 404, 409 

Dahomey, 375, 391, 392, 400, 453, 456, 

Dancing, 428, 431, 477 
Dapper, 395 
Darfur, 441, 463, 479 
Darwin, Charles, 384 
Daura, 388 
Decoy of hunter, 412 
Demons, 461 ; see Bori, Spirits 
Descent through females, 452 
Designs, 404; see Arts, Industries 
Diffusion, 405, 436; iron-working, 404- 

408; summarized, 438, 468; see 

History, Migrations 
Dikwa, 389 
Divination, 458, 476 
Djenn6, ancient Sudanese city, 387 
Dog, sacrificed, 407, 408, 465 
Dolls, 427 
Domestic animals, 378; see Camels, 

Cattle, Goats, Horses, Ponies, Sheep 
Drums, 430, 431, 458; sacred, 475 
Dyes, 412-419; from indigo, 416; pits 

for, 417; see Basketry, Leather, 


Earth, mother, 456; spirit, 382 

Ecological factors, 377, 440, 478 

Edo tribe, 386 

Egba tribe, 443 

Eggs, sacrificed, 458 

Egypt, 379, 391, 400, 405; ancient 
fishing in, 411; Arab dynasties of, 
462; basketry of, 420; boat burial in, 
464; fans and umbrellas used in, 
469; glass of, 433; leather work of, 
420; mummies of, 459; religion of, 
456; silver work of, 436; weaving of, 
412, 415 

Ekoi tribe, 390, 464 

Elevation of Nigeria, 375; see Ecology, 
Geography, Plateau 

El Mansur, ruler of Morocco, 388; see 
History, Morocco, Sahara 


Culture Areas of Nigeria 

Embroidery, 415 

England, 396; see Administration, Euro- 
pean influence 

Entertainers, 462; see Dancing, Mar- 
kets, Music, Wrestlers 

Eshu, devil-stone at Ife, 465 

Etruscan influence, 464 

European influence, 392, 396, 398- 
399, 437, 439, 480; see Exploration, 

Fachi Oasis, 395 

Fans, 469 

Fattening of girls, 459 

Fawckner, 395 

Fellata, 389; see Fulani 

Fernando Po, 396 

Fika tribe, 379, 463; see Potiskum 

Fire-making, 451 

Fishing, 411, 451 

Flogging ceremony of Fulani, 473 

Foci of culture, 479 

Folklore, see Mythology 

Foureau-Lamy Expedition, 394 

France, 396 

French, Equatorial Africa, 397; Niger 
Territory, 375, 434; Sudan, 434, 
479; see Dahomey, Exploration, 
Ivory Coast, Timbuktu 

Fulani, 389, 390, 392, 393, 431, 472, 
473, 475, 479; cattle of, 472; flogging 
ceremony of, 473; language of, 377 

Fulas (Fulani), 389 

Fulbe (Fulani), 389; see Fellata, Peul 

Funerals, 464 

Funerary figures, 380 

Furnaces for iron ore, 405; see Glass, 
Iron, Metals 

Ga language, 387, 392 

Galla tribes, 452, 459 

Gambia, 375, 376, 379, 381, 383, 416 

Games, 458 

Gao, ancient city of, 393 

Garments at Kano, 415 

Geography of Nigeria, 375-378, 397, 
448, 478-479 

Germany, 396, 435 

Ghana, ancient city of, 387, 418 

Ginning of cotton, 413, 414, 416 

Girdles for women, 474 

Glass, 468 

Goats, hides of, 408, 421, 435; on 
plateau, 475; sacrificed, 454 

God, ideas of, 455; see Religion, 

Gold Coast, 380, 474 

Gold, dust, 435; wire, 435 

Gombe, 467 

Gourds, 399, 428-430; as musical in- 
struments, 430 

Granada, 393 

Granaries, 379 

Grassland area, 376 

Graves, 464 

Great Lakes, 376 

Groves, sacred, 397, 456, 465, 477; see 

Guilds, for crafts, 399, 407; see Benin, 

Bida, Bronze, Glass, Wood-carving 
Gulf of Guinea, 376 
Guns, muzzle-loading, 410 
Gwari tribe, 470 
Gwozo tribe, 410, 422, 474 

Hair, combs, 427; dressing, 404, 408; 
see Barber, Personal ornament 

Hamites, 382, 384, 406, 441; age grades 
of, 452; culture of, 444, 459; migra- 
tions of, 398, 479; physique of, 444 

Handicrafts, 399-439 

Hannibal, 472 

Harmattan, 377 

Harpoons, 411, 463 

Hausa, 393, 411, 414, 419, 435; culture 
470; gourds, 429; language, 377 
physique, 443; states, 388, 389 
traders, 403 

Head-hunters, 476 

Henna, 461 

Herodotus, 396 

Hides, see Leather 

Himyaritic influence, 387 

Hippopotamus, hunted, 411; spirit of, 

Historical factors, 384-398, 478-479; 
Northern Provinces, 390; sequence of, 
440, 448; Southern Provinces, 390 

Hoe cultivation, 450; see Agriculture 

Holland, 396 

Hornbill, 412 

Horses, 399, 438, 448, 461, 470; armor 
for, 463; in Egypt, 471; equipment of, 
408; hair used, 430, 432 

Hottentots, 384 

Houses, 475; see Architecture 

Human sacrifice, 397, 453, 460 

Humidity, see Rainfall 

Hunting equipment, 409; see Bows, 

Hyksos Dynasty, 391 

Ibadan, 376, 415, 462 
Ibi, 375, 412 
Ibibio tribe, 390 
Ibn Batuta, 387 
Ibn Edresi, 387 
Ibn Khaldun, 387 
Ibn Said, 388 

Ibo tribe, 385, 386, 390, 443 
Idena grove, Ife, 465 
Ife, 382, 391, 400, 464, 465; sacred 
groves of, 465; wood-carving of, 427 
Ijaw tribe, 385, 386, 390, 445, 459 



Ilorin, 394, 412, 427, 461, 462 

Incest, 476 

India, 405, 463, 468; cotton spinning of, 

Indigo, 468; see Dyeing 

Industries, 399-439; summarized, 438; 
see Basketry, Bronze, Iron, Leather, 
Metals, Pottery, Weaving 

Initiation, 397, 451, 476; see Circumci- 

Inventions, 399 

Iron, 381, 382, 404-408, 449, 475 

Irrigation, 470 

Iseyin, 412, 414 

Ivory Coast, 400, 402; wooden stools of, 

Ivory ornaments, 397, 403, 437, 450 

Jekri tribe, 392, 428, 443 
Jolas tribe, 381 
Jos, town of, 475 
Juju house, 380 

Jukun tribe, 379, 386, 388, 391, 397, 
413, 441, 454, 456, 464 

Kababish tribe, 385, 459, 471 

Kaduna, 376 

Kagoro tribe, 474, 477 

Kamalia, 406 

Kanem, 388 

Kanembu, 464 

Kano, 375, 385, 388, 393, 409, 412, 

418, 463, 472; industries of, 399-439 
Kanuri, 389 
Katab tribe, 477 
Katsina, 388, 389, 393, 418 
Katsina Ala, 411, 431 
Kenya, 379 
Keri-Keri tribe, 389, 422, 443, 474; 

language of, 377 
King, 386, 453, 454, 476; of Benin, 399; 

compound of, 451; officials of, 391; 

umbrella of, 469 
Kinship, see Avunculate, Cross cousins, 

Social organization 
Knitting, 414 
Knives, 408; for throwing, 409-410; see 

Iron, Warfare, Hunting 
Kohl, 461; see Malachite 
Kola nuts, 404, 453, 458, 465, 470 
Kongo, 454; see Congo 
Koran, 424, 460; see Mohammedanism 
Kordofan, 385, 434, 441, 459, 463 
Kotonu, 392 
Kru tribe, 385, 442 
Kuka, 393, 394 
Kukawa, 389, 471 
Kukia, 387 
Kumasi, 391 

Lagos, 376, 394, 461 
Laing, Major, 393 
Lajawa, 465 

Lamps, Carthaginian, 382; pottery, 424 

Landolphe, 395 

Languages, 377, 384, 386, 398, 446- 

449; education and, 481; physique 

and, 446; plateau, 474, 477; tones of, 

Law, Koranic, 460 
Leather, 409, 420-423, 461 
Leaves worn, 474 
Leo Africanus, 387 
Leopard society, 452 
Liberia, 442, 457, 466; leather of, 421; 

stone figurines of, 380 
Libyans, 382, 387, 389, 475 
Lip plugs, 475, 477 
Lithic remains, see Archaeology 
Locke, 395 
Lokoja, 397, 464 
Looms, 450; see Weaving 
Lunda, 454 

Magic, see Charms, Groves, Medicine- 
man, Rain maker, Religion 

Maguzawa, 470 

Maiduguri, 375, 411, 419, 429, 462, 471 

Maize, 450, 470 

Malachite, 414, 423 

Malaria, 396 

Malta, 463 

Mamprussi, 434 

Mancala, 458 

Mandingo kingdom, 387 

Mangbetu tribe, 438 

Manioc, 418, 450 

Maradi, 414, 423 

Markets, 418, 419, 424, 462, 463 

Marriage, 452, 474 

Masai, 452, 472 

Masks, 399, 427, 451, 477 

Mats, 417; see Basketry, Raffia, Weav- 

McGregor Laird, 396 

Meat, dried and smoked, 424 

Mecca, pilgrimage to, 460 

Medical research, 481 

Medicine-man, 455, 458 

Mediterranean culture, 418, 459, 464- 
469, 478 

Medowa, 326 

Melanesia, 452 

Melle, Empire of, 387 

Mende tribe, 380 

Metals, 403-408 

Migrations, 378, 382, 384, 397, 436, 
444; Islamic, 385; Negro, 390; 
summarized, 390; see Asia, Hamites, 

Military organizations, 453; see Masai, 

Milk, avoided, 451; of camels, 471; 
used by Fulani, 472 

Millet, 418, 470 


Culture Areas of Nigeria 

Moat at Benin, 402 

Mohammedan influence, 391, 398, 399, 

441, 460, 472 
Mongonu, near Chad, 422 
Monoliths, 382; see Archaeology, Ife 
Moors, 461; see Morocco 
Morocco, 376, 393, 403; invasion from, 

388; leather, 421; slavery in, 453 
Mummies, 454, 459, 464 
Munshi tribe, 390, 411, 412, 431, 437, 

Murzuk, 393, 394 

Musical instruments, 430, 462, 477 
Mythology, 391, 456, 466 

Nakedness, 475 

Naraguta, stone enclosures at, 379; see 

Nassarawa, 446, 473 
Needles, 408; brass, 404; knitting, 414; 

for sewing mats, 419 
Negro, culture of, 449-459; physique of, 

385, 442, 443, 447; see Bantu, Ibo, 

Ijaw, Kru, Sudanic 
Neolithic age, 381; see Archaeology 
Niger River, 375, 382, 386, 393, 395; 

see Exploration 
Nile Valley, 384, 405; see Egypt 
Nilotic tribes, 472; see Sennar, Shilluk 
Nomori (stone figures), 380 
Northern culture, 469-473 
Northern Provinces, history of, 387- 

Nose pins, 475, 477 
Nuba tribe, 474 
Numidians, 472 
Nungu tribe, 477 
Nupe tribe, 391, 397, 404, 429, 441, 

443; language of, 377 
Nyame (Sky God), 381 
Nyendael, van, 395 

Oath, 476; see Law 

Obalufon, 465 

Obba of Benin, 401 

Oduduwa, 465 

Ogbomosho, 412, 414, 424, 461; gourds 

at, 429 
Ogboni league, 452 
Ogowe River, crossbow used at, 410 
Ogun, 465 
Oil-palm, 432, 451 
Old Calabar, 403 
Olofe-finra, 465 
Omens, 435, 476 
Onitsha, 464 
Oranyan, 392, 465 
Ordeal, trial by, 458, 460 
Ornament, personal, 432-437, 458; see 

Beads, Hairdressing, Scarification 
Osiris, crown of, 467 
Osteological remains, 444 

Ovimbundu, 407, 452, 454, 457; see 

Angola, Umbundu 
Oxen, 376, 472, 478 
Oyo, 391, 392, 454, 466 

Paddles, 428 

Painting the body, 397 

Palaeoliths, see Archaeology 

Palm, fiber, 461, 474; oil, 397, 424; see 

Basketry, Borassus, Raffia 
Pankshin, 408, 422 
Papyrus, canoes, 412; other uses of, 

410, 461 
Parkland area, 376 
Pastoral culture, 472; see Cattle, 

Fulani, Masai 
Patrilineal clans, 477 
Peanuts, 450 
Penis sheath, 475 
Pepy, King of Egypt, 400 
Persia, Arab influence from, 462, 463 
Personal ornament, 462; of plateau 

tribes, 475; see Beads, Hairdressing, 

Silver, Scarification, Tooth-mutila- 
Peuls, see Fulani 
Phallus, 381, 458 
Phoenicians, 381, 386, 435, 464; see 

Carthage, Mediterranean influence 
Physical types, 386, 398, 442-444 
Pigments, 475; see Camwood, Dyes, 

Henna, Indigo, Kohl, Malachite, 

Plateau tribes, 473-478 
Political rights of Nigerians, 481 
Ponies used on plateau, 475 
Popos, 392 
Port Harcourt, 376 
Portuguese influence, 395, 400, 468; see 

European influence 
Potash, 397 
Potiskum, 379, 419, 422, 428; pottery 

of, 326; see Bolewa, Fika, Keri-Keri 
Pottery, 423-426, 450 
Priests, 455, 465, 466; see Groves, 

Medicine-men, Religion 
Property, bequest of, 472 
Psychology, 480, 481 
Pumpkins, 464; see Calabashes, Gourds 
Punishments, 460; see Law 
Pygmies, 384 
Python worship, 457 

Quivers, see Bows 

Rabba, 394 
Rabeh, 389 
Racial characters, 442; see Physical 

Raffia, 413, 450; see Basketry, Mats, 

Rainfall, 375-378, 478; see Climate, 

Ecology, Geography 



Rain maker, 455, 458, 476; of Fulani, 

Ramadan, feast of, 460, 461 

Rattles, 430, 431; see Dancing, Musical 

Razors, 408; see Barber 

Red Sea, 479 

Reincarnation, 477; see Ancestor wor- 
ship, Religion 

Religion, 454-456; agriculture and, 450; 
art and, 399, 438; of plateau tribes, 
477; see Ancestor worship, Animism, 
Ax-worship, Benin, Bori, God, 
Groves, Ife, Kings, Medicine-men, 
Mohammedanism, Priests, Sacrifice, 
Shrines, Spirits, Taboos 

Rhodesia, 450 

Rice, 380, 464, 470 

Rio de Oro, 393 

Roman influence, 461, 463 

Rosary, 460 

Royal Niger Company, 390 

Sacrifice, 403, 435, 450, 454, 465; dog, 
407; human, 397, 453, 460; see 
Ancestor worship, God, Groves, 

Sahara, 376, 388, 393, 436, 468; camel 
culture, 471; see Agades, Asben, 
Exploration, Timbuktu, Tuareg 

Salt, 435; containers for, 418; mines, 
388; see Bilma, Teghaza 

Sandals, 421, 428, 461 

Sapele, 376, 395, 428 

Sara tribe, 419 

Sau, or So, tribe, 380 

Savannas, 376; see Grassland, Parkland 

Scarification, 397, 458, 467, 474 

Schools, 399, 401, 480 

Secret societies, 451; see Crocodile, 
Initiation, Leopard 

Segu, 416 

Semantic tones, 377 

Semi-Bantu languages, 447 

Semites, 385, 398, 445, 453, 462; see 
Arabs, Migrations, Mohammedans 

Sennar, 463, 473 

Sequira, 395 

Seres tribe, 381 

Serpents, of bronze, 401; charm against, 
422; charmers of, 462; of ivory, 
437; kept in groves, 456; skin on 
bow, 410; of wood, 428; see Python 

Sexual organs mutilated, 459; see 
Clitoridectomy, Circumcision 

Shango, god of thunder, 379 

Shari River, 393 

Shea-butter, 417 

Sheep, 475 

Shehu of Bornu, 389 

Shendam, 473 

Sherbro Island, 380 

Shields, of Buduma, 410; of Gwozo, 410 

Shilluk tribe, 411, 454 

Shrines, 457; see Groves 

Shuwa Arabs, 377, 446 

Sierra Leone, 416, 432, 452; dyeing in, 

Signaling with drums, 458 

Silver work, 435, 436, 461, 463 

Sky god, 381, 456 

Slavery, 385, 448, 453; under Islam, 

So, or Sau, tribe, 388 

Sobo tribe, 443 

Social organization, 470, 476 ; of Negroes, 
452; see Avunculate, Cross cousins, 
Kings, Kinship 

Social problems, 480, 481 

Sokoto, 390, 393, 411, 418, 429; eleva- 
tion of, 375; horses bred in, 471; 
pottery of, 425 

Soldering, 404 

Songhai, 387, 389; see History 

Soul, 455, 464; see Bori, Reincarnation, 

Spears, 411 

Spinning, 412-414 

Spirits, of dead chiefs, 476; in drums, 
458; good and bad, 455; of water, 472 

Staffs, of bronze, 400; of wood, 402 

Stone, buildings of, 379-381; monu- 
ments at Ife, 465, 466; mortars and 
rubbers, 380; sacred, 458; see Archae- 
ology, Celts, Ife 

Stools, sacred, 454; see Wood-carving 

Sudanic, empires, 387; languages, 444, 

Sweet potatoes, 450 

Swords, 409; ceremonial, 401; of silver, 

Taboos, 477 

Tafilet, 394 

Tahoua, 376, 444, 471 

Tanners, see Leather 

Tattooing, 461; see Painting, Scarifica- 

TSbessa, 468 

Technology, see Arts, Industries 

Teda tribe, 395 

Teeth, mutilated, 458 

Teghaza, salt mines of, 388 

Terraced hillsides, 470, 475 

Terra cotta, 465, 466; see Pottery 

Textiles, see Dyeing, Spinning, Weaving 

Throwing-knife, 409, 438, 463 

Tibbu tribe, 390 

Tibesti, 395 

Timbuktu, 375, 385, 387, 393, 418, 421 

Timgad, 468 

Tin, 400 

Tobacco, of Angas tribe, 475; horns for, 
422; pipe, 408 


Culture Areas of Nigeria 

Togoland, 478 

Tools, see Industries 

Topography, 473; see Geography, Rain- 

Tornadoes, 377 

Totemism, 457 

Traders, diaries of, useful, 397; see 

Trees, sacred, 458 

Tripoli, 393, 394, 453, 468 

Tsetse fly, 378, 472 

Tuareg, 387, 388, 407, 421, 434; see 
Agades, Asben, Buzu, Timbuktu 

Turban, 414, 461 

Turkana tribe, 411 

Tweezers, 408 

Twins, 397 

Uganda, 432, 454; python worship in, 

Umbrellas, 401, 469; sacred, 468 
Umbundu, 458; see Angola, Ovimbundu 
Uncle, maternal, 452; see Social organi- 

Vegetation zones, 375-378 

Victoria, Cameroon, 380; Nyanza, 384; 

see Great Lakes 
Vogel, explorer, 389, 394 

Wadai, 389, 394 

Warfare, 377, 397, 446, 463; equipment 

for, 412; Hamitic, 445; horses used 

in, 471 

Weapons, 463; see Daggers, Knives, 
Shields, Spears, Swords, Hunting, 

Weaving, 412-418, 450 

Weirs for fishing, 451 

Welfare work, 481 

Wheat, 470 

Whipping, see Flogging, Sennar 

Windham, 395 

Wizards, 458; see Medicine-man, Ordeal 

Women, 477; crouch to men, 475; in 
king's court, 454; see Clothing, Cross 
cousins, Marriage, Personal orna- 
ment, Social organization 

Wood-carving, 399, 403, 426-430, 450 

Wool, 419 

Worship, see God, Groves, Medicine- 
man, Priests, Religion, Sacrifice, 

Wrestling, 458, 462 

Wukari, 391, 397; see Jukun 

Yams, 418, 450 

Yauri, 396 

Yergum, 464 

Yola, 380, 394, 446, 473 

Yolofs, 382 

Yoruba, 386, 391, 404, 414, 429, 441, 

456, 468; cultural mixture, 385; 

language of, 377; pottery of, 424 

Zagawa, 389 
Zaria, 388, 446, 473 
Zinder, 376, 428, 471-473 

Field Museum of Natural History 

Anthropology, Vol. XXI, Plate XCIII 


Field Museum of Natural History 

Anthropology, Vol. XXI, Plate XCIV 


Field Museum of Natural History 

Anthropology, Vol. XXI, Plate XCV 



Field Museum of Natural History 

Anthropology, Vol. XXI, Plate XCVI 


Field Museum of Natural History 

Anthropology, Vol. XXI, Plate XCVII 


Field Museum of Natural History 

Anthropology, Vol. XXI, Plate XCVIII 


Field Museum of Natural History 

Anthropology, Vol. XXI, Plate XCIX 


Field Museum of Natural History 

Anthropology, Vol. XXI, Plate C 


Field Museum of Natural History 

Anthropology, Vol. XXI, Plate CI 





Field Museum of Natural History 

Anthropology, Vol. XXI, Plate CIV 

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Field Museum of Natural History 

Anthropology, Vol. XXI, Plate CVIII 

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Field Museum of Natural His tory 

Anthropology, Vol. XXI, Plate CIX 

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Field Museum of Natural History 

Anthropology, Vol. XXI, Plate CXII 

Fig. 1. Basket-maker's booth. Fig. 2. Making coiled basketry 

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Field Museum of Natural History 

Anthropology, Vol. XXI, Plate CXIII 

Fig. 1. Ibo men building house, Onitsha. Fig. 2. Mat made by Nupe, Bida 

Field Museum of Natural History 

Anthropology, Vol. XXI, Plate CXIV 

Fig. 1. Oven for roasting skewers of meat. Fig. 2. Sword-makers 

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Fig. 1. Papyrus reed canoe. Fig. 2. Fighting behind shields 

Field Museum of Natural History 

Anthropology, Vol. XXI, Plate CXLIV 



Fig. 1. Buduma traders with natron, Baya Seyarum. Fig. 2. Ox of chief, Kukawa 

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Field Museum of Natural History 

Anthropology, Vol. XXI. Plate CXLV 

Fig. 1. In Kano market, Nigeria. Fig. 2. At Maradi, French Niger Territory 

Field Museum of Natural History 

Anthropology, Vol. XXI, Plate CXLVI 


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Field Museum of Natural History 

Anthropology. Vol. XXI, Plate CXLVII 

Fig. 1. The group. Fig. 2. The match 

Field Museum of Natural History 

Anthropology, Vol. XXI, Plate CXLVIII 

Fig. 1. Barber shaving boy's head, Ogbomosho. Fig. 2. Woman dressing hair, Iseyin 

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Field Museum of Natural History - . Anthropology, Vol. XXI, Plate CLI 

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Fig. 1. Priests in charge of sacred grove, Ife. Fig. 2. Old moat, Benin 

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Anthropology, Vol. XXI, Plate CLV 

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Anthropology, Vol. XXI, Plate CLV1I 

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Field Museum of Natural History 

Anthropology, Vol. XXI, Plate CLVIII 


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Field Museum of Natural History 

Anthropology, Vol. XXI, Plate CLIX 


Fig. 1. General view. Fig. 2. Old city wall and gateway 

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Anthropology, Vol. XXI, Plate CLX 

Fig. 1. School in market, Kano. Fig. 2. Emir of Fika with British staff of office