Bark Cloth Animal Tales

In anticipation of June’s Hands on History session, I’d like to share with you, two animal characters from our collections, who you will have the chance to meet on Saturday 18th as we explore the theme of ‘Animal Tales’.



These two dolls, a bird and according to its ears, an elephant (without a trunk!) were collected by a donor who taught in South West Uganda during the 1960s and 70s. The dolls are made of bark cloth. Bark cloth-making is an ancient craft of the Baganda people, who live in the Buganda Kingdom, South Uganda. The cloth is derived from the Mutaba tree. Its soft, fine texture and terracotta colour are achieved by beating the inner bark with a variety of wooden mallets: a strenuous and time-consuming process.


The dolls are sewn together with natural fibres, likely to be straw or grass, which is also used to create the decorative stripes on the bird and stars on the elephant’s hide. I wonder if our youngest visitors would like to give our bird and elephant names.

Looking forward to seeing you in the Picture Gallery on Saturday 18th June.

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