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Identifier: Film Collection no. 249

Scope and Contents

Anthropologist Francis Paine Conant made this film as part of his dissertation for Columbia University. The film documents the use of the tools Conant collected for the AMNH from the peoples of northcentral Africa. Conant filmed Fulani (i.e. Fulbe), Hausa, and the "pagan" Dass (i.e. Maguzawa) people performing various tasks. Two men build a cone or cylinder house; a bow is made by bending a straight branch, one end of which is anchored in a tree hole as the other is tugged until the desired curve is made; arrows are made of sticks that have been smoked in a mound of ashes to dry and harden them, after which they are polished with a stone. A man operates a double treadle loom weaving a narrow strip of cloth; a blacksmith shapes an arrowhead, axhead, and small saw (his hand-pumped bellows are also filmed); a woman demonstrates potmaking, by the coil method, through all stages of construction and firing; and men and women harvest corn and grain, and the corn is then pounded and winnowed. Conant created a large grid and found volunteers to participate in an effort to show body movements involved in the use of implements. White stripes were painted down the volunteers' backs, arms, and legs; then they were filmed performing tasks in front of the grid. A man using a hoe, and the same man with a bow and arrow, pretending to stalk game and poising to shoot, appear in front of the grid in the film. The last part of the film examines music-making. Rocks beaten together and upturned bowls hit with sticks act as percussive instruments; some men play small bowed instruments; others play small skin drums; men and women dance and sing alone and in groups. One dancer wears a costume made of straw while another holds a pole ornamented with a mirror in a dance that is probably a harvest celebration.


  • 1958

Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access

Not available through interlibrary loan. Contact AMNH Library Special Collections for terms of access.


1 Film Reel (53 minutes) : silent, black and white ; 16 mm.

1 Videocassette (U-Matic (53 minutes)) : silent, black and white ; 3/4 in.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

3/4 in., U-Matic, viewing copy


Original format: 16 mm. print; incomplete.



Francis Paine Conant, photographer and director.

Nigeria, 1958
Iris Lee
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Museum Archives at the Gottesman Research Library Repository

American Museum of Natural History
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New York NY 10024 USA
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