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To celebrate Vikings Live, we have replaced our Roman alphabet with the runic alphabet used by the Vikings, the Scandinavian ‘Younger Futhark’. The ‘Younger Futhark’ has only 16 letters, so we have used some of the runic letters more than once or combined two runes for one Roman letter.

For an excellent introduction to runes, we recommend Martin Findell’s book published by British Museum Press.

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kanga

  • Object type

  • Museum number

    Af2003,21.1

  • Description

    A rectangular machine-printed white cotton cloth, kanga, with a continuous patterned border of red and blue floral motifs, enclosing a central diamond-shaped design containing an open, western-style woman's handbag, also in blue and red and surrounded by further floral patterns in the same colours. Just above the centre of the lower border is an inscription in Kiswahili written in the Arabic script: UMEWACHA MLANGO WAZI, PAKA AMEKULA ANDAZI, UNA SHAURI GANI MPANGAJI - " You left the door open, so the cat ate the doughnut; what are you going to do about it, tenant?".

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  • Date

    • 1950s (?)
  • Production place

  • Findspot

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Length: 153 centimetres
    • Width: 108 centimetres
  • Inscriptions

      • Inscription Type

        inscription
      • Inscription Script

        Arabic
      • Inscription Language

        Kiswahili
      • Inscription Content

        UMEWACHA MLANGO WAZI, PAKA AMEKULA ANDAZI, UNA SHAURI GANI MPANGAJI
      • Inscription Translation

        You left the door open, so the cat ate the doughnut; what are you going to do about it, tenant?
      • Inscription Type

        maker's mark
      • Inscription Content

        ART No 315 100% cotton MADE IN INDIA
  • Curator's comments

    kangas are printed and purchased in pairs, then cut into single cloths before wear. Those showing western consumer goods and luxuries are typical of the 1950s; inscriptions in the Arabic script continued until the 1960s when the Roman script largely took over, though they are still occasionally printed in the Arabic.

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  • Location

    G25/dc9

  • Condition

    good

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date

    2003

  • Department

    Africa, Oceania & the Americas

  • Registration number

    Af2003,21.1


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Object reference number: EAF64784

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