Anuak dance spear

Anuak dance spear

Accession Number:
[Southern Sudan]
Cultural Group:
Anywaa [Anuak]
Date Made:
By 1936
Wood Plant , Brass Metal , Animal Tail , Animal Hair , Animal Hide Skin
Carved , Stained , Polished , Recycled , Tied
Total L = 1827, spearhead L = 549, blade L = 460, blade W = 40.5, blade th = 7.5; shaft upper diam = 11.5 x 11; ostrich tuft L = 55, diam = 60 mm [RTS 19/8/2005].
183.4 g
Other Owners:
Presumably collected by Evans-Pritchard during his period of fieldwork amongst the Anuak between early March and May 1935 [RTS 18/6/2004].
Field Collector:
Edward Evan Evans-Pritchard
PRM Source:
Edward Evan Evans-Pritchard
Donated 1936
Collected Date:
March - May 1935
Imitation spear, carved from a single piece of wood with the surface stained a deep reddish brown colour and polished (Pantone 477C). This consists of a long narrow blade with a raised rib running down the centre of both sides and rounded shoulders, on a solid cylindrical base that tapers out towards its lower end. This has been carved to imitate the socketed base of a metal blade, with a vertical groove cut down the centre on one side to copy the 'seam', and with the base offset from the handle below. The handle is roughly round in section, and tapers slightly to a a rounded butt. Immediately below the base of the 'socket', the spear has been fitted with a tuft of dark brownish black animal hair (Pantone Black 7C), roughly cylindrical in shape and slightly pinched in towards its centre. This may be a section of animal tail left with the hair in place. This seems to slide up and down the shaft slightly, but is held in place by 2 hide strips that are tied around the shaft above and below it. Below this are 2 sections of recycled brass cartridges, fitted over the shaft as decorative bands and currently a metallic yellow colour (Pantone 871C). There is a similar, but shorter band further down the shaft. The dance spear is essentially complete, but has some slight damage to the edges of the blade. It has a weight of 183.4 grams and is 1827 mm long; the spearhead section is 549 mm long, while its blade has a length of 460 mm, maximum width of 40.5 mm and maximum thickness of 7.5 mm; the shaft has an upper diameter of 11.5 by 11 mm; the hairy 'tuft is 55 mm long, with a diameter of 60 mm.

Presumably collected by Evans-Pritchard during his period of fieldwork amongst the Anuak between early March and May 1935
(E.E. Evans-Pritchard, 1940, The Political System of the Anuak of the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan, p. 3). This object was made in imitation of an iron bladed spear, and was used in dances.

Rachael Sparks 30/9/2005.

Primary Documentation:
Accession Book Entry [p. 410] - 1936 [insert] 10 [end insert] E. EVANS-PRITCHARD, M.A., Exeter College, Oxford. - Specimens collected by himself in the EASTERN SUDAN, while travelling with a Grant from the Rockefeller Leverhulme Trustees, viz: [insert] 10 [end insert] - Well-made wooden imitation of iron-bladed spear; used in dances. ANUAK.

Card Catalogue Entry - There is no further information on the catalogue card [RTS 30/1/2004].

Pitt Rivers Museum label - AFRICA, Sudan. ANUAK tribe. Wooden dance spear. d.d. E. Evans-Pritchard. 1936.10.10 [plastic coated label, tied to object; RTS 19/8/2005].

Written on object - Wooden dance-spear. ANUAK, E. SUDAN. d.d. E. Evans-Pritchard, 1936 [on paper label, glued around surface of object; RTS 19/8/2005].

Funded by Arts and Humanities Research Council
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