A very nice piece of Zululand memorabilia, BUT, of very dubious provenence ,.... vis-à-vis January 1879.
This knobbed stick is the traditional "Iwisa" ( Zulu translation ; "fall down"), or known as a kerrie to colonialists and Boers alike - a formidable Zulu weapon- and a very effective skull crusher.
The nicely textured tight grained deep brown coloured wood is very hard and is harvested from the TAMBOETJI tree ( not to be confused with Tamboekie grass, with tall, bamboo like segmented stems, which is endemic in the area ).
The wood in the pictured kerrie is not cracked or fissured, thus suggesting that it's age is probably less that 80 years and was very likely purpose made for the tourist industry.
In Zulu culture the Induna or tribal elder, would carry sticks with large knobs like this, the bigger the knob indicating his higher social status. From his peers, the carrier of such a stick would attract exclamations of "INDODAAA" shouted in reverence, but accompanied by some tittering as well.
To make such a weapon the Zulu would sever a whole major limb from a Tamboetji tree, selecting one at least 200m in diameter at its base and 3 - 4 metres long. The limb would then be pared down to shape the large knob at the wider end and the thinner handle at the other. The parings and the rest of the branch would be burned, but this had to be done carefully as the smoke from a Tamboetji fuelled fire is quite noxious.
The occurrence of the Tamboetji tree is endemic in the region and found mostly in broad leaved scarp forests mixed with patches of Acacia thorn , Wild Plums etc, but in some places small stands of these trees are also found at higher elevations in flatter, dryer parts of coastal dune forests .