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Identifier: Film Collection no. 228

Scope and Contents

Filmed during the AMNH Morden African Expedition, 1947. AMNH anthropologist Ralph Kepler Lewis made this documentary of the Turkana people during the Morden African Expedition of 1947, led by co-leaders William James Morden and Irene Morden. En route to the desolate Lodwar area in Kenya where the Turkanas live, Lewis recorded some of the scenery and people of Uganda and Kenya. Near Tamkal, Uganda, West Suk people drive their goats, and a little further on in a Karamojang village near Moroto, Uganda, the people and their daily activies are scrutinized. In a nearby Tepeth village women grind matama in front of their cone or cylinder dwellings. As the travelers approach Turkana territory, scenes of Lake Rudolph (now Lake Turkana) and various rivers and streams contrast sharply with the rest of the arid desert landscape of northern Kenya. The Turkanas are a pastoral people and carefully tend their livestock. They practice cattle bleeding, by puncturing a neck vein with a blunt arrow, and collect the blood in a bowl before drinking it either as is or mixed with milk. At Lodwar, Lewis concentrates on the costume and ornamentation of the Turkanas. The men, after mixing their hair with grey clay, mould a bun on the back of the head into which they insert a grand display of ostrich feathers. Their ears, noses and lips are pierced to accomodate an array of rings and labrets. Young girls wear triangular leather aprons trimmed with egg shell beads and buttocks covers of skin. Women wear rectangular aprons, similarly adorned, and skin wraps over one shoulder. Their hair is shaved on both sides and the center roach is twisted into strings with clay and fat. At Namoruputh men perform a jumping dance during which they reach amazing heights while keeping their legs stiff throughout. East Suk are seen dancing and tending livestock as the expedition departs for home.


  • 1947-1948

Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access

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


1 Film Reel (51 minutes) : silent, black and white ; 16 mm.

1 Videocassette (U-Matic (51 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.



Ralph Kepler Lewis, photographer.

Turkana, 1947-1948
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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