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
Date Made:
By 1979
Iron Metal , Wood Plant
Forged (Metal) , Hammered , Socketed , Decorated Incised , Carved , Polished
Total L = 1554; spear-head L = 305, blade L = 150, shank W = 9.2, th = 7.5, socket base diam = 17; shank diam = 14.3 x 12.2 (top), 9.5 x 9 (butt) [RTS 13/7/2005].
196.1 g
Local Name:
tong alol
Other Owners:
Purchased by Brian John Mack (known as John Mack) (then at the Museum of Mankind) for 1 on 25th 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:
25 February 1979
Spear consisting of an iron spear-head with narrow triangular blade, the base of which ends in 2 long barbs that curve outwards from the body. This has a raised midrib running down the centre of the blade on both sides, the line of which continues into the upper part of the shank, which has been hammered flat to form a rectangular section. A series of small barbs have been chiselled out of each edge; these point downwards until the base of this section, where the last 4 chisel blows down each side have been placed in alternating directions. The body continues below as a solid, round sectioned shank, that opens up into a cylindrical socket with a slightly open seam running up the front face; it is currently a metallic grey colour (Pantone 877C). This has been fitted onto the top of a lightweight wooden shaft, carved from a natural branch and with a slightly irregular surface down its length. This is a yellow colour (Pantone 7510C) and has been highly polished. The shaft tapers slightly to a rounded butt with some wear. The spear is complete, with a weight of 196.1 grams and a total length of 1554 mm. The spear-head is 305 mm long, with a blade length of 150 mm (including the barbs); the shank is 9.2 mm wide and 7.5 mm thick, while the base of the socket has a diameter of 17 mm. The shank has an upper diameter of 14.3 by 12.2 mm and a lower diameter at its end of 9.5 by 9 mm.

Purchased by Brian John Mack (known as John Mack) for £1 on 25th 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.

This type of spear is said to have been made by the Jur, and is called
tong alol. Nebel defines the term Tòng, plural tòòng , as ‘spear, war, fight’ (Nebel 1979, Dinka-English Dictionary, p. 84), and alol as ‘spear with two big barbs’ (op.cit. p. 8). 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).

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. 201] 1979.20.110 Spear, tong alol . Jur manufacture. Iron head is tanged; foreshaft decorated. Total L = 1.55 M.; L. iron head = 30.7 cm. Coll. by John Mack, 25.2.79; £1. Coll. no. 276.
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 alol . Pat Langton Coll, no. 276 [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. 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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