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 Jur Luo
Date Made:
By 1979
Iron Metal , ?Wood Plant
Forged (Metal) , Hammered , Socketed , Carved , Decorated , Incised
Total L = 1685; spearhead L = 402, blade L = 176, W = 30.7, th = 4, shank W = 13.5 x 8.5, socketed base diam = 15.5; shaft diam = 12.3 x 10.3 at centre, 7.5 x 7 at butt [RTS 11/7/2005].
277.5 g
Local Name:
tong magang
Other Owners:
Purchased by Patti Langton for 1 on 26th February 1979 as part of the British Institute in Eastern Africa's Expedition to the Southern Sudan [RTS 14/5/2004].
Field Collector:
Patti Langton
PRM Source:
Patti Langton
Purchased 1979
Collected Date:
26 February 1979
Spear consisting of a narrow leaf-shaped head, thickened down the centre on both sides to give a slightly lozenge-shaped section, with rounded shoulders curving in to a solid round sectioned shank. The body below has been hammered flat to give a rectangular sectioned area that has been used as a surface for decoration. This consists of a narrow band of hatching, with a deeper incised line running around its base. The surface between has been decorated on the front and back faces only, with decoration consisting of a series of short vertical lines running down the centre, framed on one side by shallow oblique cuts along the edge, and on the other by deeper cuts that have created a row of 4 downwards pointing barbs. These barbs appear on opposite faces, and opposite edges of the shank. A series of cuts immediately below have created four upward pointing barbs, with a horizontal line then a second narrow band of vertical hatching framing the pattern at the base. The shank becomes round in section again below this section, tapering out to form a socketed base, with a slightly open seam running up the front. It is currently a metallic grey colour (Pantone 877C). The spear-head has been fitted onto the top of a long wooden shaft, carved from a yellowish brown branch (Pantone 7509C) with surface irregularities down its length. The spear is complete; the tip of the spear-head has been bent slightly and there is scorching down part of the shaft. It has a weight of 277.5 grams and a total length of 1685 mm. The spear-head is 402 mm long, with a blade length of 176 mm, shoulder width of 30.7 mm and maximum thickness of 4 mm; the shank is 13.5 mm wide and 8.5 mm thick, while the socketed base has a diameter of 15.5 mm. The shaft has a diameter of 12.3 by 10.3 mm at the centre, and 7.5 by 7 mm at its butt.

Purchased by Patti Langton on 26th February 1979 for £1, as part of the British Institute in East Africa's expedition to the southern Sudan. The place of collection was not specified, but would have been either Dhangrial, Wun Rog or Mayen, all of which like in 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.

This spear is of Jur manufacture, and is known as
tong magang . Nebel defines the term Tòng, plural tòòng , as ‘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 this example) and usually inferior 'copies' made by Arab smiths at Omdurman (e.g.: 1979.20.76).

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] 1979.20.108 Spear, tong magang . Jur manufacture. Part of the foreshaft is decorated and barbed. Total L = 1.67 M.; L. iron head = 40.4 cm. Coll. 26.2.79; £1. Coll. no. 272.
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, tong magang . Pat Langton Coll., 272. 1979.20.108 [plastic label with metal eyelet, tied to object; RTS 11/7/2005].

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. A note in Langton's list for number 178 indicates that tong is the Dinka word for spear [RTS 12/1/2004].

Funded by Arts and Humanities Research Council
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