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 , Copper Metal
Forged (Metal) , Hammered , Socketed , Drawn Wound , Decorated Incised , Carved Polished
Total L = 1646; spear-head L = 433, blade L = 211, W = 35.3, th = 7; shank diam = 10 x 9.2, socketed base = 15 x 14.4; shaft upper diam = 13.5 x 13, diam butt = 9 x 8.7 mm [RTS 13/7/2005].
306.5 g
Local Name:
tong alol atung duak
Other Owners:
Purchased by Brian John Mack (known as John Mack) (then at the Museum of Mankind) for 1.75 between 17th and 26th 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:
Between 17 and 26 February 1979
Spear consisting of an iron spear-head with narrow, leaf-shaped blade ending in 2 short barbs at its base. This has an angular midrib running down the centre of both sides. The blade merges with a solid, oval sectioned shank, flanked by a pair of downwards curving barbs and then a single barb below. This is decorated with 2 lines incised around the circumference, then opens up into a cylindrical socket at its base, with a mostly closed seam running up the front face. A long length of fine copper machine drawn wire has been loosely wound around the shank, just above the socketed section. The spear-head fits over the top of a lightweight wooden shaft, carved from a branch and with some natural irregularities down its length, tapering in to a narrow flat butt. This is a yellow colour (Pantone 7509C) and has been polished. The spear is complete, but there is some rust on the iron head, otherwise a metallic grey colour (Pantone 877C). It has a weight of 306.5 grams and a total length of 1646 mm. The spear-head is 433 mm long, with the blade, including its barbs, having a length of 211 mm, width of 35.3 mm and maximum thickness of 7 mm; the shank has a diameter of 10 by 9.2 mm and the socketed base measures 15 by 14.4 mm across. The shaft has an upper diameter of 13.5 by 13 mm and diameter at the end of 9 by 8.7 mm.

Purchased by Brian John Mack (known as John Mack) for $1.75, sometime between 17th and 26th 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 alon atung duak. 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). In this case, alol appears to mean ‘spear with two big barbs’ (Nebel op.cit. p. 8).

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 [insert] (the collectors) [end insert] were offering money, the Dinka in surrounding compounds came daily, increasing prices as often as they could! [p. 196] 1979.20.78 Jur-made spear, tong alol atung duak , with three barbs. Total L = 1.64 M., L. iron head = 43.5 cm. Coll. by John Mack; £1.75. Coll. no. 182.
Additional Accession Book Entry [below accession number in red biro] - A5-F35-32.

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 atung duak , Pat Langton coll., no. 182 [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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