Ethnographic Arms & Armour
 

Go Back   Ethnographic Arms & Armour > Discussion Forums > Ethnographic Weapons

Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Old 20th May 2021, 07:50 PM   #1
mross
Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 473
Default African spear

I'm pretty sure this is an African spear, but that is about all. This is not my area as I know next to nothing about it. I do hope it is an Assegai. It seems to have some age to it. The point is a bit rounded but the edges are sharp. I tried to show the head the best I could along with a ruler for a size indicator. So what do you all think as to what it is and possible age? Thanks.
Attached Images
    
mross is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 26th May 2021, 12:07 AM   #2
thinreadline
Member
 
thinreadline's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: Wirral
Posts: 1,161
Default

Its certainly S E African and probably Zulu or allied tribe . Its a large bladed throwing assegai . I would think late 19th / early 20th C
thinreadline is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 26th May 2021, 04:35 PM   #3
mross
Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 473
Default

How do you differentiate between the throwing spears and the stabbing spears?
I thought the smaller heads where the throwing and the larger heads the stabbing?
mross is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 27th May 2021, 02:05 AM   #4
Helleri
Member
 
Helleri's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2016
Location: Boulder Creek, CA.
Posts: 189
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by mross View Post
How do you differentiate between the throwing spears and the stabbing spears?
I thought the smaller heads where the throwing and the larger heads the stabbing?
The head shape/length really depends on what it's meant to go through. But spears that are primarily meant to be thrown tend to have slender flexible shafts. One might often carry a few throwing spears so a bulkier shaft adds to weight and makes it harder to keep them bundled or quivered. A bulkier shaft can also result in more resistance in deeply penetrating a target. For instance if the weight of it causes it to wrench down upon impact that can change the path of the head. Whereas a thin flexible shaft doesn't provide as much resistance and can even help a point to worm it's way through upon impact by whipping around from the force of an impact or absorbing the return kinetic energy in a bowing and returning it back into a spear head when straitening out again to drive it further (or at least making it less likely to bounce out). A whip like shaft will also warble in flight and help stabilize the trajectory of a thrown spear.

You need a thicker more rigid shaft if you're meant to thrust with a spear. Because driving force imparts a lot more stress. One may also have to deflect an incoming blow. A thicker handle is also easier to keep a grip on. Spears that are more about thrusting may even have guards or langets (something one is not likely to see on a spear that is never intended to stop an incoming blow).
Helleri is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 27th May 2021, 08:20 PM   #5
Norman McCormick
Member
 
Norman McCormick's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 1,448
Default

Hi,
Here are some Zulu or associated tribal spears of mine. The three between the dished knobkerrie and the loin covering are the obvious stabbing variety. The two on the right hand side are the obvious throwing type. The one second from the left has a throwing type head but has been cut down possibly, I remember reading somewhere, to use as an ersatz stabbing spear or maybe some Victorian traveller cut it down for easier transportation to Blighty. The end has been cut using a blade rather than a saw so maybe the first postulation is the right one. The one on the far left although the shaft is longer than the obvious stabbing type has an animal hide grip on the end the obvious reason being to afford a better grip so I would guess this is a stabbing type. The third and fourth from the right are perhaps a bit more ambiguous i.e. long shaft and long blade although one has a tapered butt which would suggest a stabbing weapon. I have also attached a photo of the six large bladed spears in order to compare the different blade types. I hope this is of some help.
Regard,
Norman.
Attached Images
  
Norman McCormick is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 27th May 2021, 09:32 PM   #6
mross
Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 473
Default

Thanks all, special thanks to Norman. Mine seems to be the brother of yours just to the left of the knobkerrie in the central 3. Even the wrap looks similar, In your close ups which one is it? So mine is a stabber then?
mross is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 28th May 2021, 03:44 AM   #7
Helleri
Member
 
Helleri's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2016
Location: Boulder Creek, CA.
Posts: 189
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Norman McCormick View Post
Hi,
Here are some Zulu or associated tribal spears of mine. The three between the dished knobkerrie and the loin covering are the obvious stabbing variety. The two on the right hand side are the obvious throwing type. The one second from the left has a throwing type head but has been cut down possibly, I remember reading somewhere, to use as an ersatz stabbing spear or maybe some Victorian traveller cut it down for easier transportation to Blighty. The end has been cut using a blade rather than a saw so maybe the first postulation is the right one. The one on the far left although the shaft is longer than the obvious stabbing type has an animal hide grip on the end the obvious reason being to afford a better grip so I would guess this is a stabbing type. The third and fourth from the right are perhaps a bit more ambiguous i.e. long shaft and long blade although one has a tapered butt which would suggest a stabbing weapon. I have also attached a photo of the six large bladed spears in order to compare the different blade types. I hope this is of some help.
Regard,
Norman.
Note that the two immediately to the right of the loin cloth are not only the ones with the most robust shafts. But also the only ones with significant edge damage (of an angle and shape that would imply they were swung and stopped by another edged weapon).
Helleri is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 28th May 2021, 04:03 AM   #8
Helleri
Member
 
Helleri's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2016
Location: Boulder Creek, CA.
Posts: 189
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by mross View Post
Thanks all, special thanks to Norman. Mine seems to be the brother of yours just to the left of the knobkerrie in the central 3. Even the wrap looks similar, In your close ups which one is it? So mine is a stabber then?
The flare at the base of the shaft on yours is subtle. That could simply be from the maker cutting the cane off at a knot so as to ward against the shaft splintering from the end. But over all the shaft is long and slender. It's also warped enough to suggest that when it was once supple that it was rather flexible.

It looks to me to be best suited to throwing. That doesn't mean that it was only used for throwing...

Something to keep in mind about tribal societies is that most people in them know (at least to some degree) how to do most jobs. There isn't a whole lot of room for specialists. Usually the people who do know a lot of things that others do not know have an elevated status. Because if a tribe looses that person, they loose a big chunk of what they collectively know how to do. For instance someone with a deep understanding of herbal preparation and application for primitive medicinal purposes might also be a tribal leader or at least someone whose word you wouldn't go against to hastily.

So there is a high chance that the person who made it was also the person that used it. As such they may have well customized it for their use and preferences. Which could mean that they didn't make a dedicated ranged or melee weapon, but something which strikes a balance.
Helleri is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 28th May 2021, 11:54 AM   #9
Norman McCormick
Member
 
Norman McCormick's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 1,448
Default

Hi,
I agree with the above from Helleri. In the spears I have shown it is quite obvious which are dedicated 'pokers' and 'chuckers' although I guess this could be interchangeable as required. The others, apart from the cut down one, are relatively ambiguous and I suspect would be suited to both being thrown and thrusting. Tools and weapons have long been interchangeable with regard to function.
In answer to your question the second from the top in the close up photo. That one has an overall length of 43 inches with a blade of 14 inches. Perhaps you could measure yours for a comparison.
Regards,
Norman.

Last edited by Norman McCormick; 28th May 2021 at 12:32 PM.
Norman McCormick is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 28th May 2021, 12:19 PM   #10
Norman McCormick
Member
 
Norman McCormick's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 1,448
Default

Hi,
This thread will give you a good idea of the different spears used by the Zulu http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showth...ighlight=iklwa
Regards,
Norman.
Norman McCormick is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 28th May 2021, 09:59 PM   #11
mross
Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 473
Default

The seller had the description as pre 1879 war. Does this seem correct? It is supposedly an English capture.
mross is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 2nd June 2021, 04:49 PM   #12
colin henshaw
Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 1,352
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Norman McCormick View Post
Hi,
Here are some Zulu or associated tribal spears of mine. The three between the dished knobkerrie and the loin covering are the obvious stabbing variety. The two on the right hand side are the obvious throwing type. The one second from the left has a throwing type head but has been cut down possibly, I remember reading somewhere, to use as an ersatz stabbing spear or maybe some Victorian traveller cut it down for easier transportation to Blighty. The end has been cut using a blade rather than a saw so maybe the first postulation is the right one. The one on the far left although the shaft is longer than the obvious stabbing type has an animal hide grip on the end the obvious reason being to afford a better grip so I would guess this is a stabbing type. The third and fourth from the right are perhaps a bit more ambiguous i.e. long shaft and long blade although one has a tapered butt which would suggest a stabbing weapon. I have also attached a photo of the six large bladed spears in order to compare the different blade types. I hope this is of some help.
Regard,
Norman.
Just to say, what a fine collection of old spears etc. Norman.
colin henshaw is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 3rd June 2021, 12:04 PM   #13
Norman McCormick
Member
 
Norman McCormick's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 1,448
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by colin henshaw View Post
Just to say, what a fine collection of old spears etc. Norman.
Hi Colin,
Thanks for your comments, I'm pretty pleased with these and I suspect most if not all are 19thC. Thanks again.
My Regards.
Norman.
Norman McCormick is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 3rd June 2021, 12:11 PM   #14
Norman McCormick
Member
 
Norman McCormick's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 1,448
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by mross View Post
The seller had the description as pre 1879 war. Does this seem correct? It is supposedly an English capture.
Hi,
It is not easy to pinpoint a time frame for tribal artefacts as the form did not change much over the years. Your spear may well have the age the seller implies but it could just as well be later. Remember the first quarter of the 20thC is now a hundred years ago so items from this period are well patinated and difficult to tell apart from later 19thC items. I couldn't discount the possibility that your spear is indeed from the 19thC and if you trust your source I would then apply that dating to your spear. Hope this is of some help.
My Regards,
Norman.
Norman McCormick is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 4th June 2021, 08:39 PM   #15
mross
Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 473
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Norman McCormick View Post
Hi,
It is not easy to pinpoint a time frame for tribal artefacts as the form did not change much over the years. Your spear may well have the age the seller implies but it could just as well be later. Remember the first quarter of the 20thC is now a hundred years ago so items from this period are well patinated and difficult to tell apart from later 19thC items. I couldn't discount the possibility that your spear is indeed from the 19thC and if you trust your source I would then apply that dating to your spear. Hope this is of some help.
My Regards,
Norman.
Thanks, Norman. Yes I do trust the source, it was not eprey but a dealer that has been around awhile. Unfortunately for me I cut my collecting teeth in the world of Nihonto. With them you could probably trace them back to the exact day, hour, smith and what he had for diner. Then I got into Khuks, which are pretty easy to identify has the shape corresponds to the era. Not mention some are dated. Of course the Moro are a different story. So I do like to get a feel for the age. Thanks again. I'll go with their providence, they seemed pretty sure about the English capture as well. For what its worth the shafts circumference is: 2.5 inches
mross is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT +1. The time now is 03:18 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.11
Copyright ©2000 - 2021, vBulletin Solutions Inc.
Posts are regarded as being copyrighted by their authors and the act of posting material is deemed to be a granting of an irrevocable nonexclusive license for display here.