Dinka Tuich spear

Dinka Tuich spear
Other views of this artifact:

Accession Number:
1979.20.97 .1 .2
[Southern Sudan] Northern Bahr el Ghazal ?Dhangrial ?Wun Rog ?Mayen
Cultural Group:
Dinka Tuich
Date Made:
By 1979
Iron Metal , Wood Plant , Brass Metal , Tin Metal?
Forged (Metal) , Hammered , Socketed , Decorated , Incised , Carved Stained Recycled
Total L = 1768; spearhead L = 412, shank W = 7.3, th = 6.5, socket diam = 14.7 x 14.5; shaft L = 1431 (complete), diam = 11.3 x 10.8 at centre, 8.5 x 8 at butt, band W = 6 to 29 mm [RTS 11/7/2005].
216.0 g
Local Name:
tong magang
Other Owners:
Purchased by Brian John Mack (known as John Mack) (then at the Museum of Mankind) for 1.50 on 20th 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:
20 February 1979
Spear consisting of an iron spear-head, with a long narrow round sectioned body gradually tapering out towards its base, where the shank has been hammered flat on four sides and covered with incised decoration, above a socketed base that has an open seam running up the front. The decorated area consists of a narrow band of hatching with an incised line below, that extends around each of the four sides. There is a similar design framing the lower part of this section. A series of notches run down each of the four edges between these 2 framing devices. Two faces on opposite sides of the shank are covered with incised crosshatching across the whole surface, while the remaining 2 surfaces have a similar pattern, framed by a vertical line on either side. The spear-head is a metallic grey colour (Pantone 420C), and fits onto the pointed top of a polished greyish brown wooden shaft (Pantone 7531) that tapers slightly to a flat butt. This has been fitted with a series of decorative bands, cut from recycled sheet tin (Pantone 877C) and brass cartridge shells (Pantone 871C). These vary from 6 to 29 mm in width, with 4 brass bands, a white metal band that is probably tin, then 5 further brass bands down the length. Although each band seems firmly wedged in its current position, there are lighter reserved marks around the shaft that suggest that these may have shifted from their original locations. The spear is complete, with some wear down the shaft body. It has a weight of 216 grams and a total length of 1768 mm. The spearhead is 412 mm long, with a shank width of 7.3 mm and thickness of 6.5 mm, and a socket diameter of 14.7 by 14.5 mm at the base. The shaft is 1431 mm in length and has a diameter of 11.3 by 10.8 mm at its centre, and 8.5 by 8 mm at its butt.

Purchased by Brian John Mack (known as John Mack) for £1.50 on 20th February 1979, as part of the British Institute in East Africa's expedition to the Southern Sudan, directed by Patti Langton. The exact place of collection was not specified, but it probably came from 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 type of spear 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 1979.20.94).

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] 1979.20.97 Tong magang similar to 1979.20.94. Total L = 1.77 M.; L. iron head = 41 cm. Coll. by J. Mack 20.2.79; £1.50. Coll. no. 234.
Additional Accession Book Entry [below accession number in red biro] - A5-F35-33.

Pitt Rivers Museum label - S. SUDAN. DINKA TUICH. Spear, tong magang . Pat Langton Coll., no. 234. 1979.20.97 [plastic tag with metal eyelet, tied to object; RTS 11/7/2005].

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].

Funded by Arts and Humanities Research Council
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