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Mervyn Mitton

ZULU HISTORY AND WEAPONRY FROM 1879

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A dangerous weapon in the right (wrong?) hands and yet a true piece of art work.

Thanks for posting this interesting and beautiful artifact Mervyn.

Regards

Brian

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This is an interesting cutting from our Sunday paper. 2016 marks the 200 th year since Shaka succeeded to the throne.

The plans for a big celebration are already underway and this photo show King Zwelethini (on right) with his traditional prime minister - Prince Buthelezi.

Buthelezi is the King's Uncle and was the Regent when the King was young. They are not particularly good friends these days. Those of you who remember the film ZULU - showing the attack in 1879 on Rorke's Drift - may remember the figure who stood on the hill giving instructions to the Impis by pointing his spear. This was Prince Buthelezi - playing the part of the King Cetywayo's half-brother - Dubalamanzi.

In this picture the King is wearing traditional leopard skins - incl. the headring. He is wearing the necklace of lion's claws - only Royalty can wear lion and only chiefs are allowed leopard skin.

Buthelezi is wearing a bravery necklace - probably a gift from the King - as only he can award one. The shield that he is holding is the UMBUMBULU - it is a fighting shield and can only be held by warriors'. The larger one - often used on ceremonial occasions is the Ishilungu.

The word Zulu is a clan name - and in 1816 it is thought under 3000 people came under Shaka. As he expanded he made other clans take his name and today there are 12.5 million Zulus. Unforunately, their history is not taught properly and very few Zulus will actually know when Shaka lived.

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Following on from the picture of the Zulu King Zwelethini in ceremonial leopard skinshown above - this was in this morning's paper and shows him in a Western style uniform.

Without being disrespectful, this is what happens when a clothes designer is asked to create a unifom that has never been in existance.

The large ZAG in gold embroidery - I can only think this stands for KwaZulu Govt. - but he is of course not part of the Govt.. The cross band - made from yet another unfortunate Leopard is representing a ribbon as on a British Order. The Arms are for Natal. There is an abundance of gold thread and the sword looks like a British General's pattern. However, it is the set of five medals - with identical ribbons - that always cause the most amazement ! I think each one depicts a previous King - so, presumably, they have created an order which can be awarded ? However, there is a veil of secrecy about the whole thing.

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Guest Zulu57

I think the above axe is originally a Tsonga or Vende design and not Zulu? Here is an example from my collection for comparison. Again borders were pretty fluid back then and the Zulu may have liked the design and broght it back after a raid?

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Guest Zulu57

Very nice knobkerrie you have their Mervyn love the braided wire work. Here are two of mine one with wire work the other is a rarer offset club. The wirework often was considered a prestige piece carried by higher ranking warriors.

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Looks like Zulu King Goodwill Zwelethini is about to get run over by that car swerving at high speed behind him :lol:

Edited by Spasm

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Hi - Zulu. May we have a first name - it sounds like I'm shouting at a passer-by - since I'm surrounded by them !

The earlier axe I showed may well be Venda - as you say, there was trade amongst all of the tribes. However, the Zulus did make these hoe shapes - and also, used one which was exactly the half round shape of a hoe. Their main workmanship in metals was with weapons.

The first axe you show - and a lovely example - is Zulu. During the 1879 Ango-Zulu War they had several occasions when our troops used their bayonets. This was a great shock to them - the Martini Henry - with Bayonet, is approaching 9 feet long (3 mtrs) and outreached their spears.

The Chiefs put their metal workes to make a spear that had an elongated end - like the bayonet they feared. They had time to only make a limited number and they are very rare. The museums have examples and we have had a number through the shop. The one you have is quite valuable.

Your lovely knobkerrie is actually an Iqubanga - or, ceremonial staff for use in the Kraal. I say this as it appears to be much longer then a fighting

knobkerrie. The wirework is really wonderful. You will know that it is brass and copper wire and came in rolls from the Portuguese in Mocambique.

(Delgoa Bay) I think it was actually the old picture hanging wire - once the Zulus had woven the shape they beat it out with a very hard green stone - which they used as a hammer. The Zulus exchanges ivory and hides.

The offset ones are usually early - they also had a type that had a rectangular head. Mostly these 'snail' pattern are Swazi.

I look forward to seeing more from your collection - particularly if they are of this quality ! Mervyn

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Guest Zulu57

Mervyn

I have another type of Zulu axe her in my collection with wire wrap which dates back to the late 1800s. Take a look andlet me know what you think?

Cheers

Lew

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Hi - Lew. Another lovely type - this comes from further North - more from the Western side of what is now Botswana. Under British Rule it was

Bechuanaland. Although generic in style and with a crescent blade - you will see that it is mounted on a longer tang. The Zulus liked them and quite a number were in their hands. I must remind everyone - again- these axes were too valuable for the ordinary warriors. They were carried as emblems of authority by chiefs and eventually, by senior commanders with the Impis. All are now quite rare and valuable.

Lew did you access all of these in the US ? If so, I'm looking in the wrong Country. Actually, following the 1879 War so many of our troops took good examples back to the UK that more originals come -up for auction there , then in Sth. Africa. Mervyn

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Guest Zulu57

Mervyn

Most of these were picked up via the internet or by going to shows and trading with fellow collectors. Most of my knobkerries came from the U.K. though.

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Guest Zulu57

Actually I picked up this lovely spear from a S.A.dealer over the internet.

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Lew - sorry, I missed your last Iklwa. Broader head then they usually have - the two best ways to ensure they are Zulu are 1.

look immediately below the blade - there should be two small indentations where the smith's tongs held the blade for beating into

shape. 2. Zulus beat out from the centre towards either edge. This leaves a raised section along the middle.

Going through some old prints for posting on our Documents section, I found a number with early Zulu ref. from the 1879 war.

I will post some now - and the others at a later time. Mervyn

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It is possible that I may have posted this print previously on another one of our Forums - I don't

think it matters as it ties in well with the tactics section of this Forum.

Fort Pearson - named after the Colonel in charge is along the North Coast and borders the Tugela River - the

boundary for Zululand. The river was quite wide and deep in those days and at the mouth of the Estuary we had

H.M.S. Tenedos as the guard ship. For the invasion of Zululand we had to build a fort on the opposite bank - Fort

Tenedos - and build a barge that was pulled across by donkeys or, oxen.

The teak for the barge came from H.M.S. Tenedos and it was crewed by her seamen. However, nearly all of the

Services were involved. Approx. half a Company - 40-50 soldiers could be carried at one time. Sailors were on board and Naval Officers directed operations. However Signals Officers were also present The Semaphore signalman from

Tenedos is clearly shown and at one time I had his Zulu War Medal - out of 5 signalmen on board he was the only one to go ashore and so received the 1879 Bar for his Medal. Also shown are Zulu Guides and even a workman to help push

the barge off.

A very well detailed drawing which appeared originally in the Illustrated London News in 1879. This is an original.

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Another very detailed original 1879 print from the ILN - this shows a detachment of the Natal Mounted

Police on their way through hilly country towards Isandlawana. The entire Force only numbered some 140 men

so, Natal was left without a lot of protection. The Inspector is on horseback (typical !)

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One reads a lot of the famous British 'Square' and how effective it was against Napoleon's cavalry -

this detailed and valuable print from the ILN of 1879, shows the British Square in action in the final battle of the

Zulu War. The Battle of Ulundi. The perspective is about the middle of the Square and General Chelmsford and his staff are shown on horseback. He later went onto become the Viceroy of India.

Lt. Gen. Chelmsford had 5000 British troops available - although the Zulu Impis greatly outnumbered his Force.

We had our Infantry Regiments - we had the famous 17th Lancers - although only some 240 of them. And in the far

right of the Square you can see a lot of smoke - this was the first Maxim Battery in the British Army in action. You can see the

lances in front of the smoke and beyond them the black dots represent the Zulu Impis.

The Battle was not an easy victory for us - Thhe Zulus fought strongly and bravely and at one point nearly broke through our 'wall of men'. However, we had un-engaged units and a bayonet charge helped to repel them. When Lord

Chelmsford judged it was the right moment the right side of the squars folde back in two parts and the 17th Lancers charged.

The 9 foot lance (nearly 3 metres) is a terrible weapon and it forced the Zulus to retreat. The King retreated with his Bodyguard and that , effectively, was the end of the Anglo-Zulu War. It had taken only just over 6 months.

I find that of all the Wars fought in South Africa this is the one that has the imagination of the public - and with it's short

time span - they can follow-it. In 1999 we had all sorts of ceremonies for the Boer War - apart from one or two re-enactments the public could just not follow the sequence of events and the many different battles and scrimmages.

I think that something similar will happen with the WW1 ceremonies.

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I just had to post this one - it is the Zulu King Goodwill Zwelethini - in full Zulu dress. I think the rifle may be a

hunting type - but, it just looks so incongruous with the leopard skins ?

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CLICK TO ENLARGE

Zulus fight with three main weapons - the short stabbing Iklwa ; the longer throwing spear and,

the Iwisa , or knobkerrie.

They are trained from an early age and a Zulu with a heavy Iwisa is a most dangerous opponent.

There can be variations for different purposes - heavy fighting ones - ceremonial , for use in the Kraal and a

lighter form for dancing.

These two that I am showing today have just come-in and are very unusual for their decoration

and for the shape of the head on the larger one. This is bound in decorative style using copper

and brass wire (Brass is the darker colour). These wires came from the Portuguese in Delgao

Bay in Mocambique. I have never seen the head bound fully in this way and it makes for a very

rare item.

Overall length is 31.5 inches - 80cm.. The weight is 786 grams. 1.5 pounds

The fringe beneath the head and at the bottom - is fuse wire from the gold mines.

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The brass and copper decorative binding around the head - with a band of fuse wire.

http://gmic.co.uk/uploads/monthly_03_2012/post-6209-0-20772600-1331733198.jpgCLICK TO ENLARGE

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This shows the end of the shaft - with the fuse wire decoration

http://gmic.co.uk/uploads/monthly_03_2012/post-6209-0-80813500-1331733376.jpgCLICK TO ENLARGE

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http://gmic.co.uk/uploads/monthly_03_2012/post-6209-0-01431800-1331733548.jpgCLICK TO ENLARGE

This is a smaller Iwisa - but equally unusual in that nearly every part has carved

decoration.

20.5 inches overall (52cm) - it weighs 521 gms. - 1.1/4 pounds.

There is a swollen end to the shaft - this was to prevent the hand slipping if covered in blood.

The wood is Iron Wood - very heavy and dense.

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HEAD OF SMALL IWISA

http://gmic.co.uk/uploads/monthly_03_2012/post-6209-0-37665300-1331734443.jpgCLICK TO ENLARGE

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The carved area under the head

http://gmic.co.uk/uploads/monthly_03_2012/post-6209-0-95037900-1331734628.jpgCLICK TO ENLARGE

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