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    Interesting acquisition from a Zulu wars collector. need assistance--Zulu Knife?

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    Hi all;

    I just picked up this knife from an estate where the owner was very keen on the Zulu wars. It was proudly displayed. however I know very little about weapons of Africa and would like some assistance in identifying it. Since it was on display in a room full of Zulu war artifacts, I assume that it might be from the turn of the century or older, and even possibly, Zulu.


    Thank you all in advance









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    hi gary looks very much like a Sudanese dagger late 1800 s the swelling of the blade before the point is typical, designed purely for stabbing and  normally carried in a leather sheath like this very interesting as these were carried by the followers of the Mahdi but with African traditional weapons exact id is difficult sometimes northern designed items did head south

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    Hi all;


    Here is another piece I picked up from that estate sale. A spear in two IMG_8114_1.thumb.jpg.b95bc877d5b06d6c237e halves. One side slides into the other. looks like some flat metal was rolled up to form the junction between the two halves. Any information on the possible origins of this would be appreciated as well.


















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    hi gary another north of south Africa piece these 2 or 3 piece items are usually ceremonial although this looks more practical looking at the blade, I have attached a couple of photos of a 3 piece ceremonial  spear from Kenya given to me as a wedding present from a family friend who had a curio business in Kenya possibly masai who shortened the blade for ceremonial duties genuine leopard hand guard smaller than the length of day to day use spears a prized possession

    IMG_3334 (2).JPG

    IMG_3335 (2).JPG

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    • 1 month later...


    I suspect you'll do better on an ethnology/anthropology site. :(  Tribal weaponry has distinctive characteristics which can be broadly identified, I think: 'southern Africa', 'sub Saharan' and so on, but since all were made in local workshops, ususally with whatever metal was available, there are rarely definitive markings or absolutely conclusive identifiers.

    I would agree with Mickey that a two part spear is more likely to be ceremonial than a true weapon but other than that, and the fact that it was made from available sheet steel, I hev no insight to offer.  Here are two sites which may be of some slight help, the first a commercial dealer and the second a gallery.

    http://www.rrtraders.com/weapons.htm   http://www.hamillgallery.com/SITE/Spears.html



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    Mickey, the spear the wee one has in hand isn't Masai. Masair spears and swords have a characteristically shape with a long narrow appearance and flared ears close to the socket. The one in the photo looks more like some of the ones made in the northern part of Kenya, such as the Turkana, who liked leaf shaped spear heads.

    Peter, the "three" piece design with a metal head, and metal socketed butt, aren't necessarily ceremonial. The metal butt/tang socketed part was to keep the shaft from splitting when the spear was jammed into the ground, and then levelled at charging critters such as lions, etc.

    Without looking at the piece in hand, I can't say for certain what the flared section is all about. It may have been used to cover up a break which was welded over or re-enforced.

    Masai (and East African) spears prior to 1900 used to have very small metal spear heads and butts with long wooden handles. As metal became more common in the 20th century, the length of the metal started getting longer, and the wooden shaft smaller. Also, the early local iron made pieces have soft metal parts that bend very easily. After WWII, there's a noticeably change in the size of the metal, and also it's hardness.

    The attached photo is a typical post WWII Masai spear head shape, and also seen on Masai swords.


    Edited by Les
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    Les, you sound as if you have some considerable knowledge of these things.  Thank you for correcting my mistaken guess - it was a gues - on the ceremonial nature of the spear.  What you say makes perfect sense.  No personal knowledge of the Turkana, except that they exist, but that may give Gary a starting place in his search for a difintie ID.  Thanks again. :) 

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