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 Luo
Date Made:
By 1979
Iron Metal , Wood Plant , Copper Metal
Forged (Metal) , Hammered , Carved , Wound
Total L = 1663; spear-head L = 408, blade L = 205, W = 36.5, th = 6.2, shaft diam = 9, socket diam = 15.5; wooden shaft diam = 11.5 x 11.3; wire binding L = 9 mm [RTS 5/8/2005]. 1663 mm; the spearhead is 408 mm long, while the blade section has a length
267.3 g
Local Name:
tong achokwe
Other Owners:
Purchased by Patti Langton for 1.75 between 17th and 26th February 1979 as part of the British Institute in Eastern Africa's Expedition to the Southern Sudan [RTS 15/6/2004].
Field Collector:
Patti Langton
PRM Source:
Patti Langton
Purchased 1979
Collected Date:
Between 17 and 26 February 1979
Spear consisting of an iron spearhead with narrow leaf-shaped blade. This has a raised ridge running down the centre of both sides, giving the blade a lentoid-shaped section, and rounded shoulders, and sits on a solid shaft with circular section, and 2 downward-pointing barbs chiselled out from either side of the body. This section has a groove at its base, then joins with a cylindrical socket that expands towards its base and has a very slightly open seam running up the front, closed at top and base. The metal is currently a metallic gray colour (Pantone 877C) with a few rust patches on the socket. The upper part of the socket has been bound round with a length of copper wire, probably machine drawn, very tightly fastened in place (Pantone 876C). This spearhead has been fitted over the top of a narrow, lightweight wooden shaft, carved from yellow wood (Pantone 7509C), that tapers to its base. The spear is complete, and intact, and has a weight of 267.3 grams. It has a total length of 1663 mm; the spearhead is 408 mm long, while the blade section has a length of 205 mm, maximum width of 36.5 mm and thickness of 6.2 mm; its metal shaft has a diameter of 9 mm, with a socket diameter of 15.5 mm; the wooden shaft has a diameter of 11.5 by 11.3 mm, and the copper wire binding covers a length of 9 mm.

Purchased by Patti Langton for £1.75 between 17th and 26th February 1979 as part of the British Institute in Eastern Africa's Expedition to the Southern Sudan. The collection place was not specified, but it was probably obtained at 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 spear was made by the Jur, and is known as
tong achokwe. N ebel defines the term Tòng, plural tòòng , as ‘spear, war, fight’ (Nebel 1979, Dinka-English Dictionary, p. 84). Tong therefore refers to the spear, and the second term used in conjunction with this word describes its appearance; Langton defines achokwe as meaning 'eagle'.

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. This would be an example of the former.

Rachael Sparks 30/9/2005.

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] 1979.20.79 Jur-made spear, tong achokwe , ( achokwe = eagle) with two barbs. Total L = 1.66 M., L. iron head = 41 cm. £1.50. Coll. no. 184.
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 achokwe . Pat Langton Coll., 184. 1979.20.79 [plastic label with metal eyelet, tied to object; RTS 5/8/2005].

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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