Wednesday, July 13, 2011


Some Ngoni Weapons Obtained in 1900

  • Wednesday, July 13, 2011
  • Samuel Albert
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  • A Collection of Objects from the District to the South-West of Lake Nyassa.

    Author: R. W. Felkin
    Source: Man, Vol. 1 (1901), pp. 136-137.
    Published by: Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland

    With notes by R. W. Felkin, M.D., and others.

    'The objects represented in the photograph were collected by the Rev. R. Stewart Wright, of the Manse, Haydon Bridge, Northumberland. They are now in the possession of Dr. Felkin, and were exhibited at a meeting of the Anthropological Institute in the latter part of 1900 (Journ. Anthr. Inst., XXX., Miscellanea, No. 120 pp.).

    The information which has been collected about them is very scanty, and they are figured now in the hope that some of the readers of Man may be able to throw some further light upon their peculiarities.

    Of No. 1 Mr. Stewart says :-" The scraper-and-dagger combined is used by the " Shire Highlanders. It is made by the Ngoni, living to the west of Lake Nyasa, who do not think of putting a handkerchief to its legitimate use, when it will answer the purpose of a suit of clothes. The carrier, when toiling along under a heavy burden, with the sweat streaming down his face, scrapes it away with his iron scraper, while the reverse end may be useful as a defence should he be attacked at close quarters."
    [ 136 1901.] MAN. [Nos. 112 -113.
    Ngoni weapons

    Nos. 2 and 3 are a combined dagger and beer ladle; the former lurks in the handle of the latter, which is hollowed to form its sheath. Mr. Stewart Wright says "The combined knife anid beer ladle is unique, as I have never seen a duplicate of it. I should imagine that the maker had the idea that he would have a knife always at hand, in case of a drunken brawl. I got it in the Shire Highlands; it was made by a Manganga."

    No. 4 appears to be a small fighting axe. The blade is of iron, and of a curious recurved form. The mode of hafting is peculiarly simple; the blade being simply thrust through a hole in the haft, and secured by a wrappiug of bark-cloth. The handle is carved into a conventional representation of the head of a gazelle, or other horned animal. There are no details as to the place or mode of manufacture.

    No. 5 is a short iron spear with a flowing tuft of hair at the butt-end. Mr. Stewart Wright says of it:-" The spear is made, fused, by the Ngoni. It is a stabbing spear, "and used in finishing off the wounded after a battle."

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