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
L = 1657, diam shaft = 14; L spearhead = 318, diam socket = 16.2, W upper body = 11 by 7.5 mm; W blade shoulder = 35, th blade = 5 mm [RTS 3/1/2005].
253.0 g
Local Name:
Other Owners:
Collected by Patti Langton between 17th and 26th February 1979, as part of the British Institute in East Africa's expedition to the southern Sudan [RTS 1/6/2004].
Field Collector:
Patti Langton
PRM Source:
Patti Langton
Purchased 1979
Collected Date:
17 - 26 February 1979
Spear consisting of an iron point with a short triangular blade ending in 2 elongated barbs that extend downwards from the shoulders; this has a rounded central midrib running down the length on both sides. The body thickens below the blade to form a solid section with flat upper and lower face and curved sides; 2 small downward curving barbs extend from alternate sides. The flat areas are decorated with a single row of incised crosses. There is a slight flange at the base of this section, then a plain, elongated socket that gradually expands towards its base, with a seam running up one side. The iron is currently a metallic grey colour (Pantone 877C), with some surface rust over the socket. This has been fitted onto a long, narrow wooden shaft with a circular section that tapers to a flat base. This wood is a light yellowish brown colour (Pantone 7509C), and is light and flexible. The spear is complete and intact, and has a weight of 253 grams. It has a total length of 1657 mm, with a maximum diameter for the shaft of 14 mm and a minimum diameter at its butt of 6.5 mm. The spearhead has a length of 318 mm, a width across the shoulder of 35 mm and a thickness of 5 mm; the solid area below the blade measures 11 by 7.5 mm, and the socket has a diameter of 16.2 mm.

Collected by Patti Langton between 17th and 26th February 1979 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.

Langton did not specifically record the Dinka term for this type of object, but elsewhere the generic name for spear is given as
tong (Nebel 1979, Dinka-English Dictionary, p. 84) , usually combined with a second term to describe its appearance, hence examples known 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', and usually inferior 'copies' made by Arab smiths at Omdurman. It is not clear from the associated documentation which category this spear should belong to. It has general similarities to the Arab made spears, but the form seems to be more complex and the shaft is of better quality and made from a slightly lighter type of wood to 1979.20.76 and 96.

Currently on display in the Upper Gallery, Case 26A.

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] 1979.20.111 Spear. Iron head is tanged and barbed. Total L = 1.66 M.; L. iron head = 32 cm. Not on list, no information.
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].

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].

Funded by Arts and Humanities Research Council
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