Leg Rattles; Musical Instrument; Mathowa



Leg Rattles; Musical Instrument; Mathowa




Physical Description: Leg rattles made of the dried cocoons of the morphane caterpillar strung together. This would be worn tied around the ankles but has been coiled into a circle and stitiched in place. There are 165 cocoons in total.
Contextual Description: 02:29:56 He says people have stopped some of the practices and he said when they were coming from across the border this was like their things.You get this from the same acacia tree that Tshepo got the thorns from…
RHH: The moths that’s where they live, where the cocoons were?
SL: That’s where they would hang. If you are going to go out collecting [???] material, you target [???] tree. That’s where you’ll find them. Transcription by KL of MAC_BB_20190817_RPM3 SL Interview with Tshupo Ntono, Village Elder, Language: Setswana with English translations by SL, 2019
Contextual Description: WT 1:29:55
Its the cocoon of the mopane worm. Then when it's in the cocoon it turns into a butterfly. The butterfly goes out, lays eggs and then the eggs hatch into mopane Just inside, it is from butterfly you can imagine too that…

SL 1:30:17
there are some places where you can get a lot of this in Botswana. Somebody once tried to start a silk factory in... when you're driving to Francistown don't you remember that blue sign ...Cocoon worms or something, the project never took off but there was a sign, and there was building...

SL 1:31:08
Those are legwear that was meant for dancing.

The above notes are from a transcription by Kathleen Lawther of a discussion between Gase Kediseng, JoAnn McGregor, Nicola Stylianou, Scobie Lekhuthile and Winani Thebele which took place at the Khama III Memorial Museum on the 5th of August 2019. To listen to the full recording please follow the link below.


Making African Connections


Pre 1899








Collected by Reverend William Charles Willoughby, a Christian missionary, in what was then the Bechuanaland Protectorate (1885-1966). It is now the Republic of Botswana, having gained independence from Britain in 1966.
From 1889-92 Willoughby was pastor at Union Street Church, Brighton (now The Font pub). From 1893 to 1898 he worked for the London Missionary Society in Bechuanaland. He assembled this collection of objects during this period. This was a period of social and technological changes and these objects represent traditional lifestyles and skills, rather than the contemporary lives of the people Willoughby met.

Willoughby's collection was loaned to Brighton Museum in 1899 when he returned to the UK. The loan was converted into a donation in 1936, and accessioned as acquisition R4007.

Some objects were re-numbered with the WA (World Art) numbering system in the 2000s. These numbers have been reverted to the original R4007/... numbers where possible for consistency in 2019.

This object was thought to be made of seed pods. In fact it is made of cocoons.
William Charles Willoughby
Botswana, Southern Africa, Africa


Botswana, Southern Africa, Africa


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