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 Arab
Date Made:
By 1979
Iron Metal , Wood Plant , Brass Metal , Tin Metal? , Aluminium Metal ? , Copper Metal
Forged (Metal) , Hammered , Socketed , Carved , Recycled , Bent Bound Decorated Incised
Total L = 1658, diam shaft = 13; diam socket = 14.6, blade L = 450, Max W = 28.2, th = 4.4 mm; W brass bands = 17, W tin band = 6, W copper spiral band = 17, th = 1 mm [RTS 3/1/2005].
255.5 g
Local Name:
tong anerich
Other Owners:
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
Hunting spear consisting of an iron point, with a narrow, leaf-shaped blade with angular ridge running down the centre of the length on both sides and narrow rounded shoulders; on each side the lower part of this ridge has been decorated with a lightly incised band of crosshatching. The blade flares into a solid body which has been cut with a deep groove running down to a socketed base, with a slightly open seam running up one side. The iron is currently a metallic grey colour (Pantone 877C). A length of thin copper wire with round section has been wound tightly around the body, just below this groove, with the loose ends hooked around one another to secure them; this is metallic brown (Pantone 876C). The spearhead has been fitted onto a narrow wooden shaft with nearly circular section that tapers to a flat cut base, made from a light yellow coloured wood (Pantone 7509C). The surface has been polished and the shaft decorated with a series of bands fitted around and spaced at regular intervals along the body. Nine of these have been cut from recycled brass cartridge cases to varying lengths, and show signs of subsequent surface hammering; these are a metallic yellow colour (Pantone 871C). An additional band has been cut from a thin, lightweight strip of white metal, possibly aluminium or tin, and bent around the shaft, leaving the ends slightly open (Pantone 877C). This band has slipped down from its original position - leaving a mark on the surface showing where it was formerly placed. The spear is complete, and apart from some surface rust on the spearhead, in good condition, with a weight of 255.5 grams. It has a total length of 1658 mm. The spearhead has a length of 450 mm, with a maximum width at the shoulders of 28.2 mm and a thickness of 4.4 mm. The shaft has a maximum diameter of 13 mm and a minimum diameter of 6.8 mm, at the base; the brass bands vary in length from 26.5 to 8.3 mm; the white metal band has a width of 6 mm, while the copper spiral band is 17 mm wide and 1 mm thick.

Purchased by Patti Langton on 20th February 1979 for £1, 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 said to be of Arab manufacture, and is known as
tong anerich. Nebel defines the term Tòng, plural tòòng , as ‘spear, war, fight’ (Nebel 1979, Dinka-English Dictionary, p. 84); riic means ‘straighten’ and ci eyic riic ‘bend to a circle, ‘ci ye yic ric ‘curly’ (op.cit. p. 77), so anerich presumably describes the way the shaft has been cut with a spiralling groove. The Dinka often modify the term tong by a second word that describes the appearance of the spear, with other examples including the terms tong alol , tong magang or tong achokwe (see 1979.20.76-79, 1979.20.94, 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).

Currently on display in the Upper Gallery, Case 26A.

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] 1979.20.96 Hunting spear, tong anerich , with twisted foreshaft. Arab manufacture. Coll. 20.2.79; £1. Coll. no. 227.
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].

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].

Old Pitt Rivers Museum label - S. SUDAN DINKA TUICH hunting spear tong anerich . Pat Langton coll., no. 227 1979.20.96 [Plastic label with metal ring, tied to object; RTS 12/1/2005].

Funded by Arts and Humanities Research Council
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