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Captain David Moriarity, 80th, KIA Ntombe
This photograph taken when he was in the 7th Regiment prior to his transfer to the 80th. [Mac & Shad] (Isandula Collection)
The Battle of Isandlwana: One of The Worst Defeats of The British Empire - Military History

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 Zulu Spear attachment

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old historian2


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PostSubject: Zulu Spear attachment   Tue Apr 12, 2011 1:00 pm

Can anyone shed some light on the odd looking attachment on the spear
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PostSubject: Re: Zulu Spear attachment   Tue Apr 12, 2011 10:21 pm

Some form of decoration maybe.. Nice photo.
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PostSubject: Re: Zulu Spear attachment   Wed Dec 28, 2011 12:22 pm

I realise this is an old post but I have just joined the group and feel that I may be able to shed some light on this. In doing so I comment not as an authority but based only on my own experience of having lived in Southern Africa for 50 years.

The subject in the photo displays a strange mix of tribal traits none of which are typically Zulu. The subject is I believe not holding a weapon or a spear, but rather a ceremonial staff carved out of wood.

A interesting aspect of the Photo is the throwing spear behind the shield, this is typical of the hunting spears used by the tribes in East Africa for hunting, note: the raked back barbs which resemble a arrow head (not easly withdrawn from a enemy)

Whilst the inscription at the bottom of the photo say ‘Zulu Worrier SA’ the fist like knobkerrie (Club) that can be seen just protruding from the top of the shield on right of the photo is not Zulu but more like the type seen being carried by SiSwati or Shangaan Warriors just North of the now day Zulu Territory.
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PostSubject: Re: Zulu Spear attachment   Wed Dec 28, 2011 1:05 pm

Daba. Thanks for the informative reply. Am I right in saying the Shield in the photo is not just linked to Zulu's I was always under the impression this type of shield was strictly made by the Zulus.
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PostSubject: Re: Zulu Spear attachment   Thu Dec 29, 2011 11:40 am

A number of the South East tribes (Southern Zimbabwe down) use the rawhide shield, but the shape and size differ from tribe to tribe and even between clans in the same tribe.

This is of course, as it is today and no doubt there has been some adaptation over time (meaning my observations are current day).

The typical Zulu battle shield is about 600mm at its widest point and anything from 1400mm to 1600mm tip to tip. The lower point generally is just below the knee and the upper point level with the top of the head, but even here there is some variation.

The Tonga and Matibili (the latter are an off shoot of the Shaka day Zulu) also use this style, shape and size of shield.

The SiSwati and Shangaan shields tend to be shorter and even some times slightly wider, 600mm to 700mm wide and not much longer than about 1100mm to1200mm tip to tip

The Xhosa shield on the other hand is generally much smaller circa 400mm wide and only about 900mm to 1100mm tip to tip.

The Soto and Shuna traditionally favour no shield and tend to very effectively use a stout stick for parrying and deflecting.

Just to confuse this a little more, the shield in the photo looks like something between the typical Zulu Shield and the current day SiSwati shield.
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PostSubject: Re: Zulu Spear attachment   Thu Dec 29, 2011 1:02 pm

Well done Daba Zeta, that's a great answer.

Here's one for you. When do you reckon the picture was taken?
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PostSubject: Re: Zulu Spear attachment   Fri Dec 30, 2011 10:06 am

I can only venture a speculation that the photo is 1870 to 1900, but perhaps this is one for a photography expert.

What is the background to the photo how did you come by it etc.?
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