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Old 4th August 2018, 07:47 PM   #1
colin henshaw
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Default African (Nubian ?) shield

Something a bit different ... this is a recent acquisition, made of heavy hide (hippo ?), with a boss of crocodile.

I think these are Sudanese and have read them described as "Nubian" somewhere. Can anyone provide more information etc ?
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Old 5th August 2018, 08:35 AM   #2
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Hi Colin,

almost, it's a Fundj shield from the upper Nile. See here: http://www.africanarms.com/alle-alben/!/oa/6643573-84170221/ (just copy the link and paste it)
Very nice shield, congrats!

Regards,
Detlef
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Old 6th August 2018, 12:05 PM   #3
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Look also to this thread: http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showthread.php?t=796
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Old 6th August 2018, 04:13 PM   #4
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I'm a bit confused with the word "Fundj". Is this the same as "Funj", i.e. the empire of Dar Funj, which ended in 1821 (if Wikipedia is to be believed !)

Does the use of the word suggest that the shields were used in the large area covered by the empire, which seems to have covered most of the northern part of Sudan ?

I've looked at the Pitt Rivers Southern Sudan resource, which doesn't list a people called Fundj. Also, I've looked at the British Museum collection database, where there are shields of this shape made of black hide and catalogued as being from Nubia. The Dar Funj would have extended as far north as Nubia, but surely very few of these shields would be in Western hands before the Mahdist period.

I have seen a shield similar to this one (in a private collection). It also has a crocodile skin boss ... which makes me wonder if that feature gives us a clue as to a more precise place of origin?
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Old 6th August 2018, 04:56 PM   #5
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Sorry, can't answer your question, just have remembered to have seen this shields before and have looked where I've seen them and have given the two links. Also when when I am interested in African arms I don't collect them and I am far away to be an expert in African arms.
Maybe Martin or Wolf-Dieter will be able to give further informations.

Regards,
Detlef

PS: I am a little bit surprised that Colin don't respond until now to his own thread!
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Old 6th August 2018, 06:07 PM   #6
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PS: I am a little bit surprised that Colin don't respond until now to his own thread! :shrug

"Patience is a virtue", Detlef
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Old 6th August 2018, 07:27 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by colin henshaw
"Patience is a virtue", Detlef
Dear Colin,

I was only a little bit in sorrow!
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Old 6th August 2018, 08:18 PM   #8
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Many thanks to Sajen and LJ for their input on the shield. I've checked the website mentioned by Detlef that gives the "Funj" attribution, however could not see any references etc in support ? But perhaps I just didn't find them.

I am reasonably confident this type of shield was used during the Mahdist period (please see images attached), but havn't found anything else so far. Given the materials used, they probably were made by a tribe close to the Nile ?

Its a bit of a puzzle, so if any more information can be found, please do comment.
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Old 6th August 2018, 08:57 PM   #9
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Here are the illustrations from the British Museum database. (Thanks to LJ).
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Old 6th August 2018, 11:56 PM   #10
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Here is a statue of Maj Gen Wm Earle who was killed at the Battle of Kirbekan in 1885 , whilst part of the Nile Expeditionary Force in the Sudan. He is clearly shown striding over one of these shields. This statue is on the plateau of St Georges Hall in Liverpool.
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Old 7th August 2018, 04:04 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thinreadline
Here is a statue of Maj Gen Wm Earle who was killed at the Battle of Kirbekan in 1885 , whilst part of the Nile Expeditionary Force in the Sudan. He is clearly shown striding over one of these shields. This statue is on the plateau of St Georges Hall in Liverpool.
Useful post from thinreadline. So, I think its safe to say these shields were used by the northern Sudanese riverine tribes (Nubian) in the late 19th century. Likely, many of the examples found in Europe are war trophies.

Regarding the Funj peoples, there doesn't seem to be much clear and definitive information about them on the internet. It seems they were/are one of the Nubian groups to be found between Omdurman and Wadi Halfa ??
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Old 7th August 2018, 06:34 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by colin henshaw
Useful post from thinreadline. So, I think its safe to say these shields were used by the northern Sudanese riverine tribes (Nubian) in the late 19th century. Likely, many of the examples found in Europe are war trophies.

Regarding the Funj peoples, there doesn't seem to be much clear and definitive information about them on the internet. It seems they were/are one of the Nubian groups to be found between Omdurman and Wadi Halfa ??
Thanks Colin , that is always what I have believed . Very envious of your shield, have been after one for over 40 years ! General Earle was from Liverpool and was killed some time after the battle was over. I understand that he was mooching around a nearby village and poked his head into a hut only to be blasted by a tribesperson who was hiding within !
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Old 8th August 2018, 07:51 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thinreadline
Thanks Colin , that is always what I have believed . Very envious of your shield, have been after one for over 40 years ! General Earle was from Liverpool and was killed some time after the battle was over. I understand that he was mooching around a nearby village and poked his head into a hut only to be blasted by a tribesperson who was hiding within !
Glad you like it. This type of shield seems fairly scarce, I have only come across one or two for sale in the past. Looking at my example more closely ... there are down each side in the hide, four groups of four marks in a square, (see image attached), so eight groups in all. I wonder what they are for, perhaps representations of tribal markings or similar ?

Digging around, I have come up with two further images of these shields, one in the Governor's palace in Khartoum, the other in Blair Castle, Scotland.
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Old 9th August 2018, 07:44 PM   #14
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Great photos! Are those suits hanging on the wall of Blair Castle padded cotton horseman's tunics ? Strange coincidence that by following the links in another post just added (wanting help with a german translation) you get to a drawing of a Sudanese horseman wearing armour and also to an illustration of a shield similar to the ones we have been discussing. The German paper is about the Beja, which seems to be a catch-all name for groups living between the Nile and Red Sea if you believe Wikipedia.

Incidentally, about those marks in groups of four: could they have been pin-marks from decorations - silver plates for instance - formerly fixed to the shield ?
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Old 10th August 2018, 08:13 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LJ
Great photos! Are those suits hanging on the wall of Blair Castle padded cotton horseman's tunics ? Strange coincidence that by following the links in another post just added (wanting help with a german translation) you get to a drawing of a Sudanese horseman wearing armour and also to an illustration of a shield similar to the ones we have been discussing. The German paper is about the Beja, which seems to be a catch-all name for groups living between the Nile and Red Sea if you believe Wikipedia.

Incidentally, about those marks in groups of four: could they have been pin-marks from decorations - silver plates for instance - formerly fixed to the shield ?
Thanks. The image I believe shows a chain mail jacket, however Blair Castle does have a padded tunic(s). Here are a few more images.

The marks in my shield could have been for the attachment of decorations, I guess. They are small holes that go right through, as if made by a strong needle.
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Old 13th August 2018, 01:21 AM   #16
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A great discussion and awesome images.

Below are a pair of spears I have here. I've also two of the shields in the initial post, one is mounted in my home, the other in storage, neither have the croc skin centre "tit" as my son calls it, both are thick, hard and weighty hide, pressed to shape and with thickened folded edges.

Gavin
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Old 13th August 2018, 09:13 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gavin Nugent
A great discussion and awesome images.

Below are a pair of spears I have here. I've also two of the shields in the initial post, one is mounted in my home, the other in storage, neither have the croc skin centre "tit" as my son calls it, both are thick, hard and weighty hide, pressed to shape and with thickened folded edges.

Gavin
Thanks Gavin. Fine spears ... the shafts are of a similar material (Nile reed ?) to the stick on my shield.

If possible, please post images of your two shields as they would be interesting comparisons.

Regards.
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Old 1st November 2018, 04:17 AM   #18
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Better late than never... I'll dig the other out in the new year...
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Old 1st November 2018, 08:14 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gavin Nugent
Better late than never... I'll dig the other out in the new year...
Fine shield, thanks for posting.
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Old 3rd November 2018, 05:48 PM   #20
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Colin,

I think this is a period (1819-22 illustration of your shield. Its from Frederic Cauilliaud's "Voyage to Meroe...", Vol. 2, p.64. The text, in French, likely provides location details.

Best,
Ed
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Old 4th November 2018, 07:54 AM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Edster
Colin,

I think this is a period (1819-22 illustration of your shield. Its from Frederic Cauilliaud's "Voyage to Meroe...", Vol. 2, p.64. The text, in French, likely provides location details.

Best,
Ed
Very interesting Ed, thanks for posting. This form of shield must have been unchanged for some time. The one you have shown seems to have some sort of decoration to the leather ?

Regards, Colin
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Old 4th November 2018, 01:26 PM   #22
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Yes. Sources say that the shields were made by "bedouins" and oblong, 3 to 4 feet long. The makers must have had an artistic taste either period, group or individual like the croc.skin boss on yours. Perhaps to the market. Skin types varied based on availability of animals, hippo, rhino, giraffe, antelope whether in the north or south. The other preferred type was round like the Beja type.

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