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Mervyn Mitton

ZULU HISTORY AND WEAPONRY FROM 1879

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Approximately 44 years ago I purchased what I thought were two Assagai fighting spears and a ceremonial spear.

I have only recently decided to do a littlle research into their origin and I thank my lucky stars that I came accross GMIC and the wealth of information you hold and share. Comparing my Iklwas with your data base I belive they are basic weapons but genuine, the binding appears to be grass or reed not wire.

The third spear is carved from wood and I assume was a ceremonial or decorative piece - all three have been heavily varnished sometime in the past.

I attach photos of my small collection and would be most greatful for any information which would help determine the source and age of the pieces.

Although I purchased the three together I understand that the wooden spear may be of different origin to the metal spears.

The sizs are; Blades 30cm with 90cm Shaft, 20cm with 114cm Shaft Wooden Blade 57cm with 90cm Shaft.

If the photographic resolution is inadeqauate I will try to make better ones.

(Sorry having a problem uploading jpeg photos, will try later)

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http://gmic.co.uk/uploads/monthly_05_2013/post-15669-0-41730900-1368114873.jpghttp://gmic.co.uk/uploads/monthly_05_2013/post-15669-0-45269400-1368115000.jpghttp://gmic.co.uk/uploads/monthly_05_2013/post-15669-0-52085900-1368115119.jpg

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Harry - I'm sorry - I missed your post showing the flattened shield. A great piece of work , and now it looks like a shield. I'm glad you

didn't listen to your daughter. The traditional way to display a shield is with a knobkerry (or, axe) and an Iklwa crossed behind it - rather

like a stand of arms. Anyway , you have built-up a lovely old collection in a short space of time. Mervyn

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Overdeput - welcome to GMIC. You have shown three interesting pieces - one of them quite rare.

Firstly, the two iron spears. These are both Zulu and are Iklwas - or, short stabbing spears. Despite calling them this, many

were quite long - it depended on what the man paying wanted. Both of them have binding at the head to tighten the shaft.

This has been done with Ilala palm - they cut out the spine of the leaf and weave it. The alternatives are the skin sheath from

a cow's tail , and a woven wire binding of copper and brass. You point out that they have been given a strong coat of varnish.

This has changed their appearance - but, has probably preserved this binding.

The wooden spear is quite different. No-one - including senior chiefs could enter the King's kraal with a weapon. However,

even today the Zulus are given the right to bear a traditional weapon. In the mid-19th Century it would have been unthinkable

for them to be unarmed. They got around this by carrying a wooden spear - ornately carved. This one is a good example -

I have had several in the past, however, they were never in great numbers and are quite valuable.

Should you have any other items please post - meanwhile if we can be of any further help, please ask. Mervyn

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http://gmic.co.uk/uploads/monthly_05_2013/post-6209-0-68960800-1368364053.jpgclick

The person on the left is the South African President Zuma. He is attending the wedding of his cousin. They are both

dressed in traditional dress - which I have pointed out in the past, involves the deaths of multiple leopards.

Only Chiefs are allowed to wear spotted cats. The Nene - or front loins covering - is made from wild cats' tails. The

leopard headdress includes porcupine quills - another mark of a chief or, Induna.

I thought the umbrella looked a little odd with the traditional clothing - but why get wet when civilisation is at hand.

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Overdeput - welcome to GMIC. You have shown three interesting pieces - one of them quite rare.

Firstly, the two iron spears. These are both Zulu and are Iklwas - or, short stabbing spears. Despite calling them this, many

were quite long - it depended on what the man paying wanted. Both of them have binding at the head to tighten the shaft.

This has been done with Ilala palm - they cut out the spine of the leaf and weave it. The alternatives are the skin sheath from

a cow's tail , and a woven wire binding of copper and brass. You point out that they have been given a strong coat of varnish.

This has changed their appearance - but, has probably preserved this binding.

The wooden spear is quite different. No-one - including senior chiefs could enter the King's kraal with a weapon. However,

even today the Zulus are given the right to bear a traditional weapon. In the mid-19th Century it would have been unthinkable

for them to be unarmed. They got around this by carrying a wooden spear - ornately carved. This one is a good example -

I have had several in the past, however, they were never in great numbers and are quite valuable.

Should you have any other items please post - meanwhile if we can be of any further help, please ask. Mervyn

Mervyn you have rendered me a great service in giving me such valuable information on my Iklwa spears. I passed on the details to my 14 year old granddaughter to supplement her history studies - her history teacher was very appreciative.

A different war but my Granddaughter visited the Menin Gate and WW I battlefields last year so I have sent her details of my father's Small Book, medals, mess fork (Stamped with Reg. Number) and his Barnsley Pals Yorks and Lancs 14 th Bat. 2nd War Diary from 1 st. July 1916. I am pleased that our history is still being taught to the younger generation and they are aware of what their forbearers suffered.

You enquired whether I had any other items of interest - hmm. I lived in Holland many years and at a flea market in Delft approx. 24 years ago I thought I had found the perfect companion for my Iklwas, a Royal Welsh Fusiliers 23rd brass and copper bugle purportedly found in South Africa. I have treasured it for many years believing in it's authenticity only to be shocked into reality by an Internet search which informed me that there is a production line somewhere in India / Pakistan churning out these bugles.

I tell you this so that you may more understand my appreciation in receiving your authentication of my spears.

Again many thanks and please maintain your excellent service.

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Overdeput - thankyou for your kind comments - it is always nice to be appreciated. The amazing thing is that GMIC has attracted experts in

their fields from all around the World - the Internet is truly a wonderful invention.

I am afraid that India has been making these fake Bugles for a long time - you would be shocked at the number I see. India - and Italy - are also

producing many fake swords. Some are well done - they particularly like the US Civil War period. Mervyn

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A few months since we've posted on this thread. During the shop closing many old photos came to light - when I was President of our local

Militaria Society - The Society of the Preservation of Miltaria - we used to have organised tours 3 or 4 times a year. We had a large m/ship

of some 500 and up to 60 would book places on a hired bus and we would have a long weekend visiting sites of interest. Natal has one of the

highest number of Battle sites for just one Province - if it wasn't the British fighting the Zulus or, the Boers - it was the Zulus having internal

battles over inheritence. Sometimes up to 20/30,000 could be killed.

The trip that these photos show was to Rorke's Drift and to the Mountain and battle site at Isandlawana. Such a wonderful, quiet place to visit,

the members asked to go again many times. I think that it is probably one of the most original - and although squatters are getting closer - you

can still the ground as it was in 1879 , the positions where our troops defended themselves - and even across the Plains (some 20km) to

where Lord Chelmsford had encamped the night previously at the Mangeni Falls. The film 'ZULU' while not filmed at the original site gave good

impression of how they could see the attack on the main camp - but, didn't know what was happening.

I will start with the visit to the Mountain at Isandlawana - originally a lava plug - it sits on it's own, with a most striking resemblance to a lion or,

Sphinx. Dating back to the Napoleonic conquests in Egypt - and our subsequent Battles to dislodge them - many British Regiments adopted

the Sphinx for Badges and as Battle Honours. Therefore, to find this Spinx in the middle of Africa caused some superstitious feelings amongst

the troops.

This shows the group with the mountain in the background - I think that's me in the middle. We are standing in the area

known as the Saddle. This is where - towards the end of the Battle Col. Pullein drew his remainging men together to fight a rearguard

action. He had approx. 70 men. They were quickly scattered and retreated up to the rocky outcrop on the right. The sheer numbers

they were facing saw most of them killed - the story goes - related by Zulu Warriors, that the last defender fought up to a cave

on the face above and was killed there.

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A similar view - but without the people. It allows some of the monuments to different Units and Regiments to be seen.

They are scattered over a wide area.

http://gmic.co.uk/uploads/monthly_09_2013/post-6209-0-52739300-1379417136.jpgclick

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The various Companies were nearly as far forward as the black bush in the middle distance. Our Artillery were to

their right. You can clearly see how the mountain dominates the landscape.

http://gmic.co.uk/uploads/monthly_09_2013/post-6209-0-52381000-1379417316.jpgclick

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The original building at Rorke's Drift was destroyed in the fighting. Later re-built it was made alittle larger and with a bigger verandah

- otherwise it stands in the same place.

http://gmic.co.uk/uploads/monthly_09_2013/post-6209-0-98929200-1379417589.jpgclick

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The Rorke's Drift Memorial to those killed in the fighting. I must just tell you that the Rorke this was named after was a general trader.

There were five other white families in the immediate area and he sold mainly dry goods to Zulus.

The Memorial stands in the gardens

http://gmic.co.uk/uploads/monthly_09_2013/post-6209-0-11501900-1379419887.jpgclick

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The building has been turned into an interesting museum of how it looked in 1879. Mostly it is photographs - however,

these old spears were picked-up after the battle. Most of them are the short stabbing spear - the IKLWA.

http://gmic.co.uk/uploads/monthly_09_2013/post-6209-0-54860400-1379420241.jpgclick

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This fighting axe is one of the exhibits. They were too expensive for ordinary warriors and were carried by Chiefs - almost

as a staff of authority. I was worried about the number - however, I have realised it is an accession number for the

early museum exhibits. I couldn't imagine a modern museum doing it so crudely............

The shape is that for a Zulu Axe - looks just like a hoe.

http://gmic.co.uk/uploads/monthly_09_2013/post-6209-0-36900600-1379420512.jpgclick

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I have been working for a time on an article to cover the Battle of Isandlawana - which the British lost to the Zulus in 1879.

However, I was recently given a magazine , published in Sth. Africa and called Panorama. This was a commemorative edition

put out to cover the 100th anniversary of the Battle - now 35 years ago.

I think it was well written and interesting for the detail - the people who contributed are all given credit on the pages. Since

I am not really up to typing a long article at this time, I am going to show all the pages - I hope you find it of interest. Mervyn

http://gmic.co.uk/uploads/monthly_04_2014/post-6209-0-82907800-1398261590.jpgclick

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http://gmic.co.uk/uploads/monthly_04_2014/post-6209-0-39094700-1398261801.jpgclick

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http://gmic.co.uk/uploads/monthly_04_2014/post-6209-0-26476600-1398262965.jpgclick

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(please note that modern Zulu spelling drops the 'H')

http://gmic.co.uk/uploads/monthly_04_2014/post-6209-0-79035500-1398263144.jpgclick

http://gmic.co.uk/uploads/monthly_04_2014/post-6209-0-97421500-1398263428.jpgclick

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http://gmic.co.uk/uploads/monthly_04_2014/post-6209-0-36622600-1398264266.jpgclick

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http://gmic.co.uk/uploads/monthly_04_2014/post-6209-0-19600800-1398264492.jpgclick

http://gmic.co.uk/uploads/monthly_04_2014/post-6209-0-61603000-1398264660.jpgclick

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This post started on previous page. (page 11)

The picture of the two fallen Lieutenants is

incorrect in that both Standards were dropped

in the Buffalo River. Only the Regt. Colour

was later recovered.

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FRONT OF THE 1879 ZULU WAR MEDAL

http://gmic.co.uk/uploads/monthly_04_2014/post-6209-0-54396400-1398265566.jpgclick

Reverse of Medal -

Note it is identical to the 1853 S.A.

Medal - however, the exergue (the base)

has a Zulu stand of arms.

http://gmic.co.uk/uploads/monthly_04_2014/post-6209-0-04748200-1398265700.jpgclick

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A further selection of Zulu War pictures from the Illustrated London News of 1879.

Originally black & white - these have been hand coloured in water colours. Rare.

The 91st Regt . arrive in Durban on the Pretoria - a troopship.

http://gmic.co.uk/uploads/monthly_05_2014/post-6209-0-09302000-1399889667.jpgclick

Troops on the march for the Relief of Ekowe (now Eshowe)

http://gmic.co.uk/uploads/monthly_05_2014/post-6209-0-86438200-1399890064.jpgclick

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The Heliograph at work. This lovely print shows General Chelmsford (Blue coat) - he was on his way to

the final Battle at Ulundi. The spot he is shown at is now a stopping place on the main road and gives

lovely views.

http://gmic.co.uk/uploads/monthly_05_2014/post-6209-0-38232200-1399890218.jpgclick

Sailors on shore duty parading prior to the Battle of Ginginhlovu. This is one of my favourites -

so well drawn that I could almost name the oxen.....

http://gmic.co.uk/uploads/monthly_05_2014/post-6209-0-97851100-1399890479.jpgclick

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Again - on the march to Relieve Ekowe. The garrison had been under siege by 20,000 thousand

Zulus for some three months. The detail of troops , positions, Zulu guides etc. is quite exceptional.

Remember that war artists accompanied the various events of the War. Their rough drawings made

on the spot , were either completed by the artist - or, sent to England for another artist to work from

the drawings.

http://gmic.co.uk/uploads/monthly_05_2014/post-6209-0-89294000-1399890766.jpgclick

Zulus Charging. A very sought after print. The man on the captured horse is King Cetywayo's

half-brother - Dubalamanzi. He was the man who took the three impis around the back of the

mountain at Isandlwana and then attacked Rorke's Drift. Note how war propaganda - even in

1879, has influenced the drawings of the Zulus - particularly Dubulamanzi's face.

Also, note how many captured Martini Henry's they are carrying..............

http://gmic.co.uk/uploads/monthly_05_2014/post-6209-0-36938200-1399891110.jpgclick

(I will add further pictures over the next few weeks)

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