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 , Brass Metal
Forged (Metal) , Hammered , Socketed , Recycled , Carved
Total L = 1802; spearhead L = 515, blade L = 290, max W shoulders = 32, th = 7, shaft W = 19, th = 8.5, socket base diam = 18.7; shaft diam = 13.8 at centre, 8.5 mm at base [RTS 11/7/2005].
371.1 g
Local Name:
tong magang
Other Owners:
Purchased by Brian John Mack (known as John Mack) (then at the Museum of Mankind) for 1.50 on 19th 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:
19 February 1979
Spear consisting of an iron spearhead with a leaf-shaped blade, pronounced midrib down the centre of each side and rounded shoulders that curve in to a solid, rectangular sectioned shank . 2 rows of five downwards pointing barbs have been chiselled out along the edges of the shank, on opposite sides of opposite faces. This then joins onto a long socket that expands towards its base, with a slightly open seam running up the front. The spearhead is a metallic grey colour (Pantone 877C). The socket has been fitted onto a yellow wooden shaft with circular section (Pantone 7510C), gradually tapering in towards the butt. The surface has been polished, and fitted with a decorative brass band, made from a cut segment from a recycled cartridge case; this has hammer marks visible over most of its surface (Pantone 871C). The spear is complete, although the shaft has split along its lower body in several places and there is some corrosion around the decorative band. The spear has a weight of 371.1 grams, and a total length of 1802 mm. The spearhead is 515 mm long, of which the blade part is 290 mm in length, with a maximum width of 32 mm and thickness of 7 mm; the shaft is 19 mm wide and 8.5 mm thick, while the socket base measures 18.7 mm across. The shaft is 13.8 mm in diameter around the centre, tapering in to 8.5 mm in diameter at its base.

Purchased by Brian John Mack (known as John Mack) for £1.50 on 19th 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 magang. It is used for fighting, hunting, slaughtering animals and cutting meat. It is lethal as a weapon, and can only be removed from a wound by pushing it out through the other side of the body.

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 usually inferior 'copies' made by Arab smiths at Omdurman (e.g.: 1979.20.76 and 1979.20.94).

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 [insert] (the collectors) [end insert] were offering money, the Dinka in surrounding compounds came daily, increasing prices as often as they could! [p. 196] 1979.20.77 Jur-made spear, tong magang , with barbed foreshaft. Used for slaughtering, hunting, fighting, & cutting meat. Lethal in fighting - it can only be removed by pushing it out through the other side of the body. Total L = 1.80 M.; L. iron head = 51.5 cm. Coll. by John Mack, 19.2.79; £1.50. Coll. no. 181.
Additional Accession Book Entry [below accession number in red biro] - A5-F35-32.

Pitt Rivers Museum label - S. SUDAN, DINKA TUICH. Spear, tong magang . Pat Langton coll., 181. 1979.20.77 [plastic label with metal eyelet, tied to object; RTS 11/7/2005].

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. 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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