Dinka Tuich spear

Dinka Tuich spear
Other views of this artifact:

Accession Number:
[Southern Sudan] Northern Bahr el Ghazal ?Dhangrial ?Wun Rog ?Mayen [Omdurman]
Cultural Group:
Dinka Tuich Arab
Date Made:
By 1979
Iron Metal , Wood Plant , Brass Metal , Copper Metal
Forged (Metal) , Hammered , Socketed Drawn , Decorated Incised , Carved Stained Polished , Bound Recycled
Total L = 1691; spear-head L = 437, blade L = 239, W = 27, th = 5; shank W = 12.8, th = 7.7; socket diam = 17 x 16.5; shaft diam upper = 14.2, butt diam = 8.2 x 8; brass band L = 15 mm [RTS 13/7/2005].
300.7 g
Local Name:
tong magang
Other Owners:
Purchased by Patti Langton for 1.50 on 20th February 1979 as part of the British Institute in Eastern Africa's Expedition to the Southern Sudan [RTS 14/5/2004].
Field Collector:
Patti Langton
PRM Source:
Patti Langton
Purchased 1979
Collected Date:
20 February 1979
Spear consisting of an iron spear-head with narrow leaf-shaped blade and slight, rounded shoulders; this has been thickened down the centre to create an angular ridge running down both sides and is a metallic grey colour (Pantone 877C). It sits on a solid shank with rectangular section, with pairs of oblique chisel cuts down each edge to create several sets of 3 double 'v'-shaped barbs that point both up and down. The flat upper and lower surfaces have also been decorated with incised lines - a 'v' at the top, 2 sections of crosshatching, then a ^-shaped chevron at the base; the other side is identical, except that the top 'v' has been replaced by 2 vertical lines that do not actually meet at the base. Below this section the shank becomes round, where a length of machine-drawn copper wire has been bound tightly around the body for decorative effect (Pantone 876), before opening out to a cylindrical socket that expands towards the base and has a slightly open seam running up the front. This fits over the top of a lightweight wooden shaft, that tapers to a flat butt. This is a deep yellowish orange colour (Pantone 730C) and has been polished across the surface. Part-way down its length a brass sheath has been fitted over the shaft as a decorative band; this was probably recycled from an old cartridge case and is a metallic yellow colour (Pantone 871C). There are also a series of 11 further bands around the body, where the surface of the wood has darkened, some with green staining from contact with copper corrosion - these probably represent areas which had once been covered with similar banding, but where the bands have since been lost. Otherwise the spear is complete, and in fair condition, although there is some rust around the head socket. It has a weight of 300.7 grams and a total length of 1691 mm. The spear-head is 437 mm long, while the blade has a length of 239 mm, width of 27 mm and thickness of 5 mm, with the shank measuring 12.8 by 7.7 mm and the socket having a diameter of 17 by 16.5 mm. The shaft has an upper diameter of 14.2 mm and butt diameter of 8.2 by 8 mm, while the surviving brass band is 15 mm long.

Purchased by Patti Langton on 20th February 1979 for £1.50, as part of the British Institute in East Africa's expedition to the southern Sudan. The place of collection was not specified, but would have been either Dhangrial, Wun Rog or Mayen, all of which like in 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 is of Arab manufacture, and is known as
tong magang . 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 the example described here).

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 (the collectors) were offering money, the Dinka in surrounding compounds came daily, increasing prices as often as they could! [p. 199] 1979.20.94 Spear, tong magang , with short barbs and decorated foreshaft. Arab manufacture. Total L = 1.69 M., L. iron head = 43.8 cm. Coll. 20.2.79; £1.50. Coll. no. 222.
Additional Accession Book Entry [below accession number in red biro] - A5-F35-33.

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 magang . Pat Langton Coll., 222. 1979.20.94 [plastic label with metal eyelet, tied to object; RTS 11/7/2005].

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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