"This Zulu name for the weapon commonly known as the assegai is ' lunkonto.' The shaft, with an average length of nearly .five feet, and a diameter equal to a man's little finger, is cut from the asscgatrco ( Cvrtisia jaginea ), which is not un like mahogany. The wood is brittle yet chick, ink latter quality giving the spear that peculiar vibratory which its accuracy of flight so much depends.
The assegai heads are generally blade shaped; some consist of a mere spike, and a few are barbed. When the first shape is adopted, whether with or without? The barb, there is invariably a raised ridge along the center of the blade, which is i concave on one side and convex on the other. The reason assigned for this peculiarity of form are that this blade acts like the feathers of an arrow, and that, as the heads are always made of soft iron, which can be more easily sharpened when Minted by use. By making the tang of the head red-hot the former bon s a pas sage for itself in the thickest end of the shaft, where it is secured by binding a narrow strip of raw and wet hide round' the wood. The hide contracts on drying and thus a simple bund is made nearly as strong as if oi iron. There are two principals’ kinds of assegais, the throwing and the stabbing, the latter with a long and straight blade: To a Kaffir thin weapon is literally the staff of life.
With it he kills enemy and his game, slaughters and cuts' up his cattle brains their horns, shaves his own or his neighbor's head, does his carpentry and furriery, mid countless other jobs of various sorts. The clubs used by the Kaffir tribes vary from fourteen inches to more than six feet in length, and are terminated by a knob, whence the name of knobkerrie. The shorter knobkerrie can be carried in the belt, and at close quarters can be employed as a club, but is more commonly used as a missile, especially in knocking over birds and small game. The short heavily-knobbed cues are more generally used by the Hottentots and by the Zulus, who prefer the longer weapons as a missile. The shorter kiri is, however, the true one, as invented originally by the Hottentots, and the Zulus have gradually lengthened the stick and diminished the size of the knobs. Kerrie’s are for the most part made of acacia wood, very few of horn of the white rhinoceros, and a fine specimen of the latter kind has been known to fetch £6 much as £10 in England. The long kerrie of the Zulus are generally cut from the Lavrushulfaia, better known by it; more unpleasant name of stinkwood. The only other weapon ever borne by a Zulu is a defensive one, consisting of au ox hide shield, oval -uniform, iuiperrions to arrow or assegai, and complexly covering his body from the nose to the feet.
A stick just longs enough to project beyond both the extremities of the hide, runs down the center, and distinctive daubs of red, white, or jalap denote the particular regiment to which the bearer belongs. None but married soldiers and 'men' entitled to wear the isikokko, or head ring, are allowed to have while shields ; while the unmarried men, or ' boys,' carry black shields as soon as they have earned the right to do in conduct in the field. At this point Dingan. Chaka's successor, was very exacting, and always refused the honor to an aspirant until he had given some very striking proof indeed of his prowess. The shields are not the private property of the recipients; but of the king, who claims by right the hides of all the cattle in the military kraals. Each hide is supposed to furnish two shields — a large one for war and a smaller one for the chase. A number of men are constantly employed in converting hides into shields, and special store huts are set aside for them when made."
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Source: Logan Witness (Beenleigh, Qld. : 1878 - 1893) Saturday 3 May 1879