Dinka Tuich spear

Dinka Tuich spear
Other views of this artifact:

Accession Number:
[Southern Sudan] Northern Bahr el Ghazal ?Dhangrial ?Wun Rog ?Mayen
Cultural Group:
Dinka Tuich
Date Made:
By 1979
Iron Metal , Wood Plant
Forged (Metal) , Hammered , Socketed , Decorated Incised , Carved , Polished
Total L = 1697; spear-head L = 427, blade L = 231, W = 31.4, th = 5.5; shank diam = 9.3 x 9; socket diam = 17.2 x 17; shaft upper diam = 14.5 x 13.2, butt diam = 10 mm [RTS 13/7/2005].
309.7 g
Local Name:
Other Owners:
Purchased by Brian John Mack (known as John Mack) (then at the Museum of Mankind) for 1 on 22nd February 1979 as part of the British Institute in East Africa's expedition to the Southern Sudan, headed by Patti Langton [RTS 14/6/2004].
Field Collector:
Brian John Mack (known as John Mack), Museum of Mankind
PRM Source:
Patti Langton
Purchased 1979
Collected Date:
22 February 1979
Spear consisting of an iron spear-head with narrow leaf shaped blade ending in rounded shoulders and with an angular midrib running down the centre of both sides, becoming more prominent towards the base. This joins with a round sectioned shank, with a single barb curving down and out from one side, and a short rectangular segment below with incised decoration on its front and back faces, consisting of 4 angled cuts from the sides, meeting near the centre, with 2 pairs of shallower incised lines crossing across these in a >-shaped motif. The spear-head ends with a cylindrical socket that expands towards its base, with a closed seam running up the front. This has been fitted over a lightweight wooden shank with slightly oval section, and some scorch marks over the surface. This tapers in towards a slightly rounded butt, and is a yellow colour (Pantone ) with polished surface. The spear is complete, but has rust over some of the iron surface. It has a weight of 309.7 grams and a total length of 1697 mm. The spear-head is 427 mm long, with the blade having a length of 231 mm, width of 31.4 mm and maximum thickness of 5.5 mm; the shank has a diameter of 9.3 by 9 mm and the socketed base measures 17.2 by 17 mm across. The shaft has an upper diameter of 14.5 by 13.2 mm and diameter at the end of 10 mm.

Purchased by Brian John Mack (known as John Mack) for £1 on 22nd February 1979, as part of the British Institute in East Africa's expedition to the Southern Sudan, directed by Patti Langton. The exact place of collection was not specified, but it probably came from Dhangrial, Wun Rog, or Mayen, all of which lie within the modern administrative district of Northern Bahr el Ghazal. For a map showing the distribution of Dinka Tuich groups, see J. Ryle, 1982,
Warriors of the White Nile: The Dinka , p. 25.

Langton does not give the specific name for this type of spear, but its generic name would have been
tong, which Nebel defines as: Tòng, plural tòòng , ‘spear, war, fight’ (Nebel 1979, Dinka-English Dictionary, p. 84). The Dinka often modify the term tong by a second word that describes the appearance of the spear, such as tong alol , tong anerich, tong magang or tong achokwe (see 1979.20.76-79, 1979.20.94, 96-97, 107-108, 110).

Langton comments on the accession book entry for 1979.20.76 that the spears used by the Dinka Tuich were obtained in trade, with the better-made more traditional examples produced by the 'Jur Lao', (e.g.: 1979.20.108) and usually inferior 'copies' made by Arab smiths at Omdurman (e.g.: 1979.20.76 and the example described here).

Rachael Sparks 25/9/2005.

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. 200] 1979.20.107 Spear with one barb. Total L = 1.70 M.; L. iron head = 42.8 cm. Coll. by J. Mack, 22.2.79; £1. Coll. no. 248.
Additional Accession Book Entry [below accession number in red biro] - A5-F35-34.

Card Catalogue Entry - There is no further information on the catalogue card [RTS 5/4/2004].

Pitt Rivers Museum label - S. SUDAN, DINKA TUICH. Spear. Pat Langton Coll. 248. 1979.20.107 [plastic label with metal eyelet, tied to object; RTS 13/7/2005].

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].

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