Tribal Weapons
Hello, all. I have a few items I am trying to learn a bit more about. They are an African axe, what I believe is an African knife, and what I believe to be a Filipino spear. I will tell you what I know, and then perhaps you can tell me what you know.

The Axe:
Wooden construction with a blade bearing many small circular stampings, apparently surrounded by rays. The head of the axe is figural, and depicts a face. The Axe blade protrudes from the mouth, the tang runs through the head to the other side where it is bent over. Much of its paint is gone, but there appears to be remnants of black paint on the wood. Sotheby's sold an axe very similar in appearance and listed it as Ngbaka in their 1985-86 catalogue.

The Spear:
The overall length is 5 feet from tip to butt. The blade itself is approximately twelve inches in length, perhaps closer to thirteen including the socket. Under the old leather wrapping, you can just make out a socket. At the butt, there is a piece of iron wrapped around the shafts as a counterbalance. The shafts itself is a smooth piece of wood that appears to have been a whole branch or sapling. You can still see the knobs from branches. This was with a lot of items from the Philippine Insurrection, including an old cannon made of iron banded wood and gas pipe. I am only really assuming its origin based on its companion pieces, so any information on the morphology of varying Filipino weapons is most welcome.

The knife:
I know nothing. The blade is decorated with rows of marks down the blade's center. It has a hidden tang construction, the tail of which is bent over at the butt of the grip. The handle is a black, oily wood which I suspect to be ebony. Its overall shape makes me think it is African, but I know not.

If anyone knows more about these things, I would love to hear about it. You will find a link to an album with photos, including the page from Sotheby's. I wanted to make sure you had the largest images I could give you.
Updated Material
The axe is very likely a Bembe axe from the Congo. I have attached a few photos I found researching similar axes; these images originate from Marcuson and Hall. Note the similarity in style of face carving. The blade also bears the same disc and ray decoration. My axe has marks left on the haft that appear to have been made by wire, much like the axe in these photos.

That leaves the knife, which I am beginning to suspect is a Kuba knife, given blade shape, and the spear. Of anyone has any input on either, please chime in.

 Attachment: 832.74 KB
[ Download ]

 Attachment: 85.85 KB
[ Download ]
My first thought on the axe was Luba.

The knife is a mystery to me. I'm not certain it's even from the Congo basin (but if not, coastal West African). To make an uncertain guess: Ngombe, based on the decorations. I haven't seen a waisted Ngombe blade like this - without the waisted shape, I'd guess Ngombe with more confidence.

The spear: without further information, I'd have guessed eastern or southern Africa, but it could easily be Indian, or from elsewhere. I haven't seen Philippine spears like this, but I wouldn't rule it out. Simple generic-looking spears are hard to ID.
Hi Kevin

I agree with Timo that the spear looks a lot like certain Southern African spears: I live in this region and this bears quite a resemblance to the traditional Zulu Ilkwa stabbing spears (although it is usually a little shorter overall, with a slightly longer head - almost a long-handled, short-bladed gladius in functional terms, I believe). There are quite a few similar weapons among other people, with variations in dimensions, but similar construction, etc. But it could just be possible convergent weapon evolution; short, tanged spears are hardly uncommon weapons worldwide.


Thank you both for your thoughts. The spear really is a mystery, and in all likelihood, I will never know precisely what it is. All the same, I will exhaust myself trying to ferret it out. It rather does look like a Zulu Iklwa, doesn't it? Even so, its utilitarian build seems to lack any of the grace that I usually see in African spears; that said, perhaps that is because it is the graceful spears that people tend to photograph.

Page 1 of 1

Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum
You cannot attach files in this forum
You can download files in this forum

All contents © Copyright 2003-2006 — All rights reserved
Discussion forums powered by phpBB © The phpBB Group
Switch to the Full-featured Version of the forum