Dinka Tuich fishing spear

Dinka Tuich fishing spear
Other views of this artifact:

Accession Number:
[Southern Sudan] Northern Bahr el Ghazal ?Dhangrial ?Wun Rog ?Mayen
Cultural Group:
Dinka Tuich Arab
Unspecified Arab craftsman.
Date Made:
By 1979
Iron Metal , Wood Plant
Forged (Metal) , Hammered , Socketed , Twisted , Carved , Polished
Total L = 1628; spear-head L = 293, diam twisted shank = 5.5, diam socket = 13.5, diam shaft = 13.5 x 11.5, diam butt = 7.7 mm [RTS 13/7/2005].
163.7 g
Local Name:
bith lal anerich
Other Owners:
Made by an Arab craftsman and obtained by the Dinka Tuich. Purchased by Patti Langton for 1 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
Fishing spear consisting of an iron spear-head with sharp, narrow point, tapering out to a thin body with twisted upper part, a short, undecorated segment with round section, then a rectangular area with a series of short, downwards pointing barbs chiselled out from each of the four edges. A shallow line has been incised around the circumference below, then the lower third of the spear-head consists of a cylindrical socket that gradually expands towards its base, with an open seam running up part of the front. Tool marks are visible over much of the surface, which is a metallic gray colour (Pantone 877C). This has been fitted onto the top of a long but lightweight wooden shaft with slightly irregular surface, with a yellow coloured surface (Pantone 7509C) that has been polished. This tapers slightly to a slightly rounded butt. The spear is complete; there is some rust on the spear-head, and some scorch marks on the shaft where subsidiary branches have been burnt away. It has a weight of 163.7 grams and a total length of 1628 mm. The spear-head is 293 mm long, with a diameter of 5.5 mm around the twisted area, and 13.5 mm around the base, while the shaft has a diameter of 13.5 by 11.5 mm around its upper part, and 7.7 mm at its lower end.

Made by an Arab craftsman and obtained by the Dinka Tuich, then subsequently purchased by Patti Langton for £1 on 20th February 1979 as part of the British Institute in Eastern Africa's Expedition to the Southern Sudan. The purchase place is not recorded, but would have been Dhangrial, Wun Rog or Mayen, all of which lie 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 was used for fishing, and is supposedly called
bith lal anerich by the Dinka Tuich. Nebel defines the term bith as ‘fishing spear’ (Nebel 1979, Dinka-English Dictionary, p. 16), lal as ‘spear without barbs’ (p. 47); anerich does not appear in his dictionary. The use of the term ‘lal’ here seems odd, as the spear concerned is barbed.

For a variant type of Dinka fishing spear, also of Arab manufacture, see 1979.20.109. Ryle shows the Dinka using this type of spear (1982,
Warriors of the White Nile: The Dinka, pp 106-109), and Domville Fife describes its use, also by the Dinka "He uses, for fishing, a javelin attached to the arm by a long string. When the bubbles of a large fish are seen on the surface, this sharp little saw-edged weapon is thrown with wonderful dexterity and force. The impaled fish is hauled out of the water by the attached thin but strong line" (C.W. Domville Fife, 1927, Savage Life in the Black Sudan, p. 129).

Rachael Sparks 30/8/2005.

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] 1979.20.95 Fishing spear, bith lal anerich , of Arab manufacture. It has short barbs and a twisted iron point. Total L = 1.63 M., L. head = 43.8 cm. Coll. 20.2.79; £1. Coll. no. 226.
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 03/03/2004].

Pitt Rivers Museum label - S. SUDAN. DINKA TUICH. Spear - fishing. Bith lal anerich . Pat Langton Col. 226. 1979.20.95 [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 [RTS 12/1/2004].

Funded by Arts and Humanities Research Council
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