Dinka Tuich winnowing tray

Dinka Tuich winnowing tray
Other views of this artifact:

Accession Number:
[Southern Sudan] Northern Bahr el Ghazal Wun Rog
Cultural Group:
Dinka Tuich
Date Made:
By 1979
Grass Fibre Plant , Palm Fibre Plant
Ht = 56, rim diam = 440, rim th = 5.5, fibre strip W = 2 mm, L loop = 70 mm [RTS 20/9/2005].
523.5 g
Local Name:
Other Owners:
Purchased by Patti Langton for 1.50 on 17th February 1979 as part of the British Institute in Eastern Africa's Expedition to the Southern Sudan [RTS 15/6/2004].
Field Collector:
Patti Langton
PRM Source:
Patti Langton
Purchased 1979
Collected Date:
17 February 1979
Circular winnowing tray with rounded rim and everted sides that flare down and in to form a shallow interior with flat base. It has been made from bundles of riath grass, bound round with narrow strips of palm, creating a continuous circular coil that is wound round in a spiral, with each loop woven into neighbouring loops by the binding material. The centre of the base is crossed by a number of palm strip stitches, covering the area where the coil begins, while the top edge of the rim has been neatly finished with a herringbone style plaiting. Most of the palm strips have been left a natural yellow colour (Pantone 7508C), but others have been dyed, although the original colours seem to have faded, particularly on the interior; they are currently a dark purple (Pantone 5275C), a greenish gray colour (Pantone 7803C) and reddish brown (Pantone 7531C). These strips create a geometric pattern around the object, made up of alternating blocks of colour. There is a band of greenish gray immediately below the rim, then a series of pendant blocks made of red, then purple rows, with the same pattern reversed below, of blocks then a purple band. There follows a broad band of natural yellow, with blocks of faded green running as broken lines around the centre, then a band of alternating yellow and purple strips running around the base of the tray. Inside this is a further band of purple and greenish gray, with blocks of colour alternating inside, and outside this ring, then a smaller ring in the centre, with 3 purple blocks around its edge.

A small suspension loop has been added to the edge of the tray, threaded through a gap that has been deliberately left in the weave just before the end of the fibre coil. This cord is made from a twisted yellow 2-ply plant fibre and has been made from a single strand, folded in half then with the ends knotted together (Pantone 465C). The tray is complete, but shows sign of wear. It has a weight of 523.5 grams and is 56 mm high, with a rim diameter of 440 mm and a rim thickness of 5.5 mm. The palm fibre strips have a width of around 2 mm each, and the suspension loop is 70 mm long.

Purchased by Patti Langton at Wun Rog for £1.50 on 17th February 1979 as part of the British Institute in Eastern Africa's Expedition to the Southern Sudan.
For a map showing the distribution of Dinka Tuich groups, see J. Ryle, 1982, Warriors of the White Nile: The Dinka , p. 25.

This tray was made of riath, or riet, a type of swamp grass (Nebel 1979, Dinka-English Dictionary, p. 77 and p. 109 under 'basket') , covered in palm strips, known as nyeth. This type of tray is known as ateng. For a similar Dinka winnowing tray, see 1979.20.81, collected at Mayen. This style of work is typical of further North, in the Darfur region, particularly in the use of colour dyes (Jeremy Coote pers. comm. 25/11/2004). For a more local style of winnowing tray, see 1979.20.71-72.

Rachael Sparks 20/9/2005.

Primary Documentation:
Accession Book Entry [p. 185] - 1979.20 (.1 - 206) P[urchase] MISS PATTI LANGTON, DEPT. of ETHNOLOGY & PREHISTORY, OXFORD. Collection made by Patti Langton during the British Institute in East Africa's expedition to the Southern Sudan; Jan. - April 1979. The collection was made in three culture areas during the dry season. The amount paid for each object is listed if the information is known. In Jan. 1979 £1 is equivalent to 95 piastres (pt.) Sudanese. This documentation is based largely upon Patti's own list of objects and her notes on these. Sometimes objects included in the Pitt Rivers alottment of the collection do not appear on her list and have been added here. See Related Documents file as well. [p. 191] 1979.20.43-135 SOUTHERN SUDAN the DINKA TUICH. The Dinka Tuich, a pastoral people, live to the north of Wau, in Bahr el Ghazal province. This collection was made mostly at Dhangrial, the archaeological site at which we camped. Other artifacts were collected either at Wun Rog, a small town about a mile south of Dhangrial, or at Mayen, the new administrative centre 12 miles north. This was a remote area, difficult of access and rarely visited by outsiders. The Dinka are very aware of the potential of money, which is used either to help family members acquire education or entry into commerce and administration in Juba or Khartoum. Once it was known we (the collectors) were offering money, the Dinka in surrounding compounds came daily, increasing prices as often as they could! [p. 191] 1979.20.43 Winnowing tray, ateng . The frame is made of riath grass covered in palm, nyeth . Diam. = 44 cm. Coll. by P. Langton in Wun Rog, 17.2.79; £1.50. Coll. no. 78.
Additional Accession Book Entry [below accession number in red biro] - A5-F32-34.

Card Catalogue Entry - There is no further information on the catalogue card [RTS 16/2/2004].

Pitt Rivers Museum label - S. SUDAN, DINKA TUICH. Winnowing tray. Pat Langton coll. no. 78, 1979.20.43 [plastic label with metal eyelet, tied to object; RTS 20/9/2005].

Related Documents File - 1979.20 contains a typed packing list, which has been annotated; a typed list of objects arranged by Langton collection numbers and with pencil and biro annotations, and a handwritten list of objects by museum number, essentially repeating this information and annotated with PRM photo numbers in red. This handwritten list seems to be the direct source for the accession book entry [RTS 12/1/2004].

Funded by Arts and Humanities Research Council
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