Dinka Tuich bell

Dinka Tuich bell
Other views of this artifact:

Accession Number:
[Southern Sudan] Northern Bahr el Ghazal ?Dhangrial ?Wun Rog ?Mayen
Cultural Group:
Dinka Tuich Jur Luo
Date Made:
By 1979
Iron Metal
Forged (Metal) , Hammered , Bent
Total L = 290, bell body L = 220, W = 132, depth = 107, wall th = 2; suspension loop diam = 121.5, W = 7, th = 6.5; clapper L = 152, diam = 17.7 mm [RTS 7/12/2004].
1850 g
Local Name:
Other Owners:
Purchased by Patti Langton for 5 on 26th 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:
26 February 1979
Large bell made from 6 separate parts. The body has been made from a rectangular sheet of iron, folded over double, and the long sides heated and hammered together. The top is slightly rounded, but the side edges have been pinched together and flattened, then the central part of the body forced open, creating an almost cylindrical interior that is lentoid in section, and that widens as the bell body splays out towards its mouth. The body has been pierced near the top to carry a suspension loop. One one side, this hole is an elongated oval shape; on the other, it is circular, with a thick patch of iron or solder above it. A large iron rod has been fitted through these holes, and bent into a suspension loop with overlapping, roughly finished ends. This would have been used to attach the bell to the neck collar of a bull, while providing a seating for the clapper and other internal elements. Inside the bell body, a smaller oval loop with touching ends hangs down, to which the clapper has been attached. This is made from a thick iron rod, flattened at its upper end where it has been perforated for suspension, then becoming cylindrical in shape with a round section and flat base. This hangs down to just above the lip of the bell mouth. Also hanging down inside the bell body is a length of chain, composed of 8 circular loops linked to one another; there is a single loop of the same type also attached separately to this suspension ring. The bell is complete and intact, but has some patches of surface rust; it is currently a grey colour (ca. Pantone 425C). It has a total length with ring of 290 mm. The bell body is 220 mm long, measures 115 mm across its top, and is 132 mm wide and 107 mm deep at its base, while the metal is 2 mm thick; the suspension loop has a diameter of 121.5 mm and is 7 by 6.5 mm thick; the clapper is around 152 mm long and has a diameter of 17.7 mm. The bell has a weight of 1850 grams.

Purchased by Patti Langton on 26th February 1979 for £5, 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 bell was made by the Jur, and was hung from the necks of old bells. They are also used when moving cattle to a new camp, or during a marriage, when it is worn by the best bull. When a bull gets old, the bell is put on the door of the cattle house (
luac) to alert the owner if a hyena comes by. The Dinka name for this object is looth, probably the same as Nebel’s term lôth , meaning ‘bell’ (Nebel 1979, Dinka-English Dictionary, p. 52).

For a similar, but smaller Dinka bell, see 1934.8.14 - differences include the way in which the clapper is attached and the shape of the holes through the bell walls, although the basic body shape and design is otherwise the same. For the type of collar used to hang such bells around the necks of cattle, see 1979.20.93. Similar bells are also found in other cultures, such as the Ganda of Uganda; the Acholi also use this type as cow bells (M. Trowell & K.P. Wachsmann, 1953,
Tribal Crafts of Uganda, pl. 77I; p. 327).

Cattle bells were an early trade item in the Sudan; Petherick notes that this was one of the things the Shilluk received from Arab traders in exchange for slaves and ivory (J. Petherick, 1861,
Egypt, The Sudan and Central Africa, p. 351).

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. 200] 1979.20.103 Iron cowbell, looth , made by the Jur. Worn by old bulls. Used also when moving cattle to a new camp, or during a marriage when it is carried by the best bull. When the bull is old, the bell is put on the door of the cattle house, luac , to alert the owner if a hyena comes by. H = 22 cm. Coll. 26.2.79; £5. Coll. no. 262.
Additional Accession Book Entry [below accession number in red biro] - A5-F34-23.

Card Catalogue Entry - There is no further information on the catalogue card [RTS 19/2/2004].

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, 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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