Southern Larim spear

Southern Larim spear
Other views of this artifact:

Accession Number:
1979.20.181 .1 .2 .3
[Southern Sudan] Eastern Equatoria Loryok
Cultural Group:
Southern Larim
Date Made:
By March 1979
Iron Metal , Wood Plant
Forged (Metal) , Hammered , Socketed , Carved , Stained
[.1-.3] Total L = 3050 mm. [.1] L = 505, blade L = 387, max W blade = 51.5, th = 7, socket diam = 24.5 x 24.8 mm. [.2] Diam = 22.3 x 20.7 mm. [.3] L = 373, socket diam = 17, lower body diam = 9.3 mm [RTS 29/7/2005].
[.1 & .2] > 1000 g; [.3] 186.4 g
Other Owners:
Purchased by Jill Goudie for 4, from the base camp at Loryok for the British Institute in Eastern Africa's Expedition to the Southern Sudan, headed by Patti Langton, between 20th and 25th March 1979 [RTS 12/5/2004].
Field Collector:
Jill Goudie
PRM Source:
Patti Langton
Purchased 1979
Collected Date:
20 - 25 March 1979
Unusually long spear consisting of an iron blade [.1], wooden shaft [.2] and iron butt [.3].

The spear-head [.1] consists of a long, narrow, leaf-shaped blade with rounded shoulders and a raised rib running down the centre of both sides. It has a cylindrical socketed end that gradually expands towards its base, with a slightly open seam running up the side. The metal is mostly a dull gray colour, except around the cutting edges which are a brighter metallic gray (Pantone 877C). This has a total length of 505 mm, a blade length of 387 mm, maximum width of 51.5 mm and thickness of 7 mm; the socket has a diameter of 24.5 by 24.8 mm. This has been fitted over the top of a very long wooden shaft [.2], cut from a tree branch with the bark and subsidiary branches removed, and stained an orangey to reddish brown colour (Pantone 7517C) over the surface. It has a diameter of 22.3 by 20.7 mm. The base of the shaft has been shaved to a point, over which fits an iron spear-butt [.3]. This has a socketed top, round in section, with an open seam running up the front, before becoming solid lower down its body and tapering in to a point at the base, with a weight of 186.4 grams, a length of 373 mm, socket diameter of 17 mm and lower body diameter of 9.3 mm. The spear is complete, with some slight rust and paint flecks on the surface of the iron, which is a dull dark brownish gray colour (Pantone Black 7C). It has a total weight in excess of 1000 grams, and a total length of mm.

Purchased by Jill Goudie at Loryok for £4, sometime between 20th and 25th March 1979, as part of the British Institute in Eastern Africa's Expedition to the Southern Sudan, headed by Patti Langton.

The collector described this as a 'sacred' spear, made by blacksmiths using tishonit wood for the shaft. According to Langton, every family supposedly has a spear of this type, and it would be passed on from father to eldest son, with uses including cutting clan marks in animal's ears, for cursing, and as bridewealth. Jeremy Coote has expressed doubts about some of this information, as an item used as bridewealth would not be passed on through the male line in this way, while the extreme length of the spear makes its use for cutting clan marks difficult, if not impossible. The extreme length would on the other hand probably add to the items potency if using the spear to make a curse.

Rachael Sparks 8/9/2005.

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 alotment of the collection do not appear on her list and have been added here. See Related Documents file as well. [p. 204] 1979.20.136 - 193 SOUTHERN SUDAN the LARIM The Larim live about 50 miles west of Kapoeta in the eastern corner of S. Sudan. They are a non-Nilotic pastoral people, living in permanent mountain villages. They are part of the Didinga-Longarim-Murle language group. They live in the Boya Hills - Boya is the Topasa (neighbouring group) name for the Larim, which is also used by the Administration. Longarim is the Didinga's name for them but they call themselves the Larim, and that is used here. [p. 205] The LARIM The collection was made in two parts. The "PL" labelled material was collected during Pat Langton's stay in a village in the Northern Larim area. The "∆" labelled material was collected by Jill Goudie, one of the archaeologists on the Expedition, from the base camp LARYOK, among the Southern Larim. Money is known among the Larim but it is used only for buying beads for women from Kapoeta, or for the few members of the group who would go to Juba. The women especially were more interested in exchange gifts of salt, cloth & soap. The Larim material is documented in three parts: a) General Larim pieces - no information as to which section of the Larim it comes from b) the "PL" Collection from the Northern Larim, from three of the eight Northern Larim clans c) the Southern Larim material collected by Jill Goudie, numbered "∆". [p. 210] 1979.20.163 - 193 SOUTHERN LARIM: Collected by Jill Goudie between 20.3 and 25.3.79 [p. 212] 1979.20.181 Sacred spear, with iron blade and butt, made by blacksmith. Tishonit wood used for the shaft. Each family has one, passed from father to eldest son. Used for cutting clan marks in an animal's ears, when the father cuts the animals. Also used for brideprice and for cursing. Total L = 3.05 M.; L. blade = 50.7 cm.; L. butt = 37.2 cm. Coll. no. ∆34; cost £4.
Additional Accession Book Entry [below accession number in red biro] - A5-F36-12, 13.

Card Catalogue Entry - There is no further information on the tribes catalogue card [RTS 26/5/2004].

Pitt Rivers Museum label - S. SUDAN. S. Larim. Sacred spear. P. Langton Coll. 34 [in triangle]. 1979.20.181 [plastic label with metal eyelet, tied to object; RTS 29/7/2005].

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. This item appears in Langton's list under the heading 'Southern Larim. These were all collected between 20.3.79 and 25.3.79' [RTS 12/1/2004].

Funded by Arts and Humanities Research Council
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