Lango spear-head

Lango spear-head
Other views of this artifact:

Accession Number:
North of Lake Kyoga
Cultural Group:
Date Made:
By 1925
Iron Metal
Forged (Metal) , Hammered , Socketed
Total L = 325, blade L = 226, W = 42.4, th = 6.8; socket diam = 16.8 x 15.2 mm [RTS 27/6/2005].
170.2 g
Local Name:
Other Owners:
Jack Herbert Driberg
Field Collector:
Jack Herbert Driberg
PRM Source:
Jack Herbert Driberg
Donated 1925
Collected Date:
By 1925
Iron spearhead consisting of a narrow leaf-shaped blade with pointed tip, rounded shoulders, and a raised midrib running down the centre on both sides, giving the blade a lozenge-shaped section. This thickens at its base to form a solid, round sectioned shank that opens into a socketed end, with a partially open seam running down the front. It is complete and intact, with worn patches around the shank and edges, perhaps from having a sheath fitted at some time in the past. It is currently a metallic gray, being matt over much of the surface and shiny where worn (Pantone 877C). The spearhead has a weight of 170.2 grams and is 325 mm long, with a blade length of 226 mm, width of 42.4 mm and maximum thickness of 6.8 mm, and a socket base diameter of 16.8 by 15.2 mm.

Collected by Jack Herbert Driberg, north of Lake Kyoga, and donated to the museum in 1925.

Driberg discusses Lango spearheads in depth, illustrating an example of this type on p. 83. This was used as a throwing spear, could be fitted with a hide sheath, and is given the generic name of Tong, or otum when worn-down. Each part of the spear has its own name; the tip of the blade is called the lep, or tongue; the midrib is known as the oguru; the middle of the blade is called pot, and the neck of the socket is called etwal tong, or ngut (neck) or kor (chest), while the socket itself is called opoko. A spear with a long socket is called tong acho, or 'male spear', while one with a short socket is a tong adako, or female spear. If the split in the socket is in line with the midrib, the spear is just known as tong, as would be the case here; if however it is split at the side, it is called tong akane . The length of the blade also has its own terms; any blade longer than ten inches is called tong me oger or tong ager . The shaft is known as tir or bol , and its length depends on the size of the blade. The two parts are fixed together using a gum called odok, which comes from the pipe-stem Euphorbia and is extracted by heating a piece of the freshly broken plant. The base of the shaft would be fitted with a butt, called achipet or euna, sometimes decorated with a brass ring. However some spears have longer shafts and no butts. According to Driberg, these spears are never poisoned. He then goes on to explain how they can be thrown. When going to battle Lango men may carry from five to ten spears each, point downwards, while they carry them pointing upwards when on a hunt. These spears have an effective throwing range of up to sixty yards, and were usually marked by their owners to identify who was responsible for a kill. The Lango did once give their spears names, or name them after their donor or maker, but by Driberg's time the practice was dying out (J.H. Driberg, 1923, The Lango, 82-85).

Rachael Sparks 30/9/2005.

Primary Documentation:
Accession Book Entry [VII, p. 189] - 1925 [pencil insert] 14 [end insert] J.H. DRIBERG , Esq. c/o the Postmaster, Khartoum. Specimens collected by himself among the LANGO tribe in the UGANDA PROTECTORATE, N. of LAKE KIOGA. Viz: [...] 1925.197 [pencil insert] 1 [end insert] - iron spear-head, leaf-shaped blade & socket.
Additional Accession Book Entry [VII, p. 25 top, in pencil] - blue numbers not valid & not on specimens. Inserted by an assistant in error.

Card Catalogue Entry - There is no further information on the catalogue card [RTS 24/5/2004].

Pitt Rivers Museum label - Spear-head, LANGO tribe. UGANDA PROTECTORATE (N. of Lake Kioga). Pres. by J.H. Driberg, 1925 [rectangular metal-edged tag, tied to object; RTS 24/6/2005].

Funded by Arts and Humanities Research Council
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