Dinka Tuich winnowing tray

Dinka Tuich winnowing tray
Other views of this artifact:

Accession Number:
[Southern Sudan] Northern Bahr el Ghazal Mayen
Cultural Group:
Dinka Tuich
Date Made:
By 1979
Grass Fibre Plant , Palm Fibre Plant
Basketry , Dyed , Bound , Plaited , Twisted , Knotted
Diam = 425, Ht = 46 mm; palm strip W = 2 mm [RTS 16/11/2004].
438.9 g
Local Name:
Other Owners:
Purchased by Brian John Mack (known as John Mack) (then at the Museum of Mankind) for either 1.50 or 2 on 21st 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:
21 February 1979
Circular winnowing tray with rounded rim and everted sides that flare down and in to form a shallow interior with flat base. It has been made from bundles of riath grass, bound round with narrow strips of palm, creating a continuous circular coil that is wound round in a spiral, with each loop woven into neighbouring loops by the binding material. The centre of the base is crossed by a number of palm strip stitches, covering the area where the coil begins, while the rim edge has been neatly finished with a herringbone style plaiting. Some of the palm strips have been left a natural yellow colour (Pantone 7508C), but others have been dyed pink (Pantone 190C), a greenish gray colour (Pantone 446C) and purple (Pantone 5265C). These colours look faded, particularly on the inside, and the originals may have been much brighter. These strips create a pattern around the object, made up of alternating blocks of colour. The rim is decorated with alternating pink and greenish gray blocks, with an undyed yellow band below, then a further row of pink and greenish gray. The walls below this are decorated with alternating rows of yellow and either greenish gray, or purple, then the central part of the tray is predominantly yellow, broken by rectangular blocks of greenish gray alternating with purple around the outside edge, a purple circle, a smaller greenish gray circle within this, then the central stitching, which has been dyed greenish gray. A short length of plant fibre cord has been threaded through the top rim edge of the tray, where a gap has been purposely left just before the end of the coil, then stitched back into the tray body on the other side. This cord has been made from a single strand, folded in half and then the two loose ends twisted together and knotted at the base. This was probably intended to be tied in a loop for suspension; it has been dyed pink, to match the rim colour. This would seem to have been done by dipping, and the colour has flaked off in places. The object is complete, but has some surface staining on the inside. It has a weight of 438.9 grams, a rim diameter of 425 mm and a height of 46 mm. Each coil is 5 mm wide, while a typical palm binding strip has a width of 2 mm.

Purchased by Brian John Mack (known as John Mack) at Mayen for either £1.50 or £2 on 21st February 1979 as part of the British Institute in East Africa's expedition to the Southern Sudan, directed by Patti Langton. For a map showing the distribution of Dinka Tuich groups, see J. Ryle, 1982,
Warriors of the White Nile: The Dinka , p. 25.

This tray was made of
riath, or riet, a type of swamp grass (Nebel 1979, Dinka-English Dictionary, p. 77 and p. 109 under 'basket'), covered in palm strips, known as nyeth. This type of tray is known as ateng. For a similar Dinka winnowing tray, see 1979.20.43, collected at Wun Rog. This style of work is typical of further North, in the Darfur region, particularly in the use of colour dyes (Jeremy Coote pers. comm. 25/11/2004). For a more local style of winnowing tray, see 1979.20.71-72.

Rachael Sparks 20/9/2005.

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. 197] 1979.20.81 Winnowing tray, ateng . Made from riath grass, covered in palm, nyeth . Diam = 42.2 cm. Coll. by John Mack, 21.2.79, in Mayen. Cost either £1.50 or £2. Coll. no. 189.
Additional Accession Book Entry [below accession number in red biro] - A5-F32-35.

Card Catalogue Entry - The card repeats the accession book entry, but is annotated with an additional photograph number in red, A20 F12 5 [RTS 16/2/2004].

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 (price given as '£1.50', annotated in pencil 'label says £2'), 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].

Display History:
Current display label - SUDAN, MAYEN, DINKA. Winnowing tray, ateng. Made of riath grass covered in plam in the form of coiled basketry. Collected by J. Mack and purchased from P. Langton. 1979.20.81 [in case U.26.A, RTS 13/12/2004].

Publication History:
Illustrated with a line drawing in the leaflet 'Basketry in The Pitt Rivers Museum', devised by Felicity Wood with the Oxfordshire Basketmakers, 2001. It is also featured on the website http://basket.prm.ox.ac.uk/ [JN 14/11/2001].

Funded by Arts and Humanities Research Council
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