1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Shilluk

SHILLUK, a Negro race of the upper Nile valley, occupying the lands west of the White Nile from the Sobat northward for about 360 m., and stretching westward to the territory of the Baggara tribes. They are the most numerous of the Negro tribes of the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan, and form one great family with the Alur and Acholi (q.v.) and others in the south. Formerly extending as far north as Khartum and constituting powerful Negro kingdom, they are now decadent. They are the only race on the upper Nile recognizing one chief as ruler of all the tribes, the chief ship passing invariably to the sister’s child or some other relative on the female side. The Shilluk towns on the Nile bank are usually placed near to one another. They own large herds of cattle. In physique the Shilluks are typical Negroes and jet black. The men used to wear nothing, the women a calf-skin attached to their girdle, but with the establishment of Anglo-Egyptian control, c. 1900, they gradually adopted clothes. The poorer people smear themselves with ashes. They ornament the hair with grass and feathers in fantastic forms such as a halo, helmet, or even a broad-brimmed hat. When they saw Schweinfurth wearing a broad felt hat they thought him one of them, and were amazed when he took it off. They are skilful as hunters, and especially as fishermen, spearing fish while wading or from ambach rafts. Their arms are spears, shields and clubs. Their religion is a kind of ancestor and nature worship.

See G. A. Schweinfurth, Heart of Africa (1874); W. Junker, Travels in Africa, Eng. ed. (London, 1890–1892); The Anglo-Egyptian Sudan, edited by Count Gleichen (London, 1905).