Collection Description

Culture Name


Culture Description

The Shilluk are a Nilotic people living in hamlets scattered along both banks of the river Nile, with the highest concentration in the western bank near the town of Malakal. They earn their living primarily from cereal cultivation and animal husbandry, supplemented by fishing and seasonal hunting. Traditional Shilluk social organization, like that of the neighboring Nuer, is a segmentary lineage system consisting of vertically connected territorial and social units. The Shilluk were historically united in a single state headed by a divine king (reth).


Select the Culture Summary link above for a longer description of the culture.


Africa --Eastern Africa


South Sudan

OWC Code


Number of Documents


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Number of Pages


Collection Overview

Documents referred to in this section are included in eHRAF World Cultures and are referenced by author, date of publication and eHRAF document number.

The Shilluk Collection (FJ23) covers a wide variety of cultural and historical information, circa 1900 to 1990. The earliest and most comprehensive source in the collection is the ethnographic survey by C.G. Seligman and Brenda Z. Seligman, covering political organization, kinship, family life, marriage system, religion and funeral customs as observed in 1909-1910 (1932, no. 2). The collection also includes Evans-Pritchard’s classic essay on the divine kingship of the Shilluk (1948, no. 1), and two summary articles by professional anthropologists working with the International African Institute (Butt 1952, no. 4; Lienhardt 1954. no. 5). Other works in the collection include brief ethnographic descriptions, articles and manuscripts that appeared in scholarly journals and records of the Anglo-Egyptian colonial administration.  Topics covered in the collection include religious and medical beliefs (Oyler 1918, no. 28; 1920, no. 13; 1919, no. 11; 1920, no. 14), folklore (Oyler no. 12), settlement pattern (Howell 1941, no. 8), social organization (Pumphrey 1941, no. 17), customary laws (Howell 1953 no. 8, 1952 no. 9) and succession to kingship (Schnepel 1990 no. 30).

For more detailed information on the context of the individual works in the file, see the abstracts in the citations preceding each document.

Overview by

Teferi Adem

Dyil or dil - dominant lineage, the owner of the soil - use "COMMUNITY STRUCTURE (621)" with "LINEAGES (613)" and "REAL PROPERTY (423)"

Gol - homestead - use "HOUSEHOLD (592)"

Jal dwong pac - hamlet headman - use "COMMUNITY HEADS(622)" with "COMMUNITY STRUCTURE (621)"

Kwa, descendants, 613 - use "LINEAGES (613)" possibly with "KIN RELATIONSHIPS (602)"

Kwareth - Royal Clan - use "CLANS (618)" and "STATUS, ROLE, AND PRESTIGE (554)"

Myer - hamlet - use "COMMUNITY STRUCTURE (621)" and "SETTLEMENT PATTERNS (361)”

Nyimia - uterine sisters - use "FAMILY RELATIONSHIPS (593)"

Nyireth - son of a king (prince) - use "CHIEF EXECUTIVE (643)" with "STATUS, ROLE, AND PRESTIGE (554)" and "INHERITANCE (428)"

Indexing Notes by

Teferi Adem

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