Ethnographic Arms & Armour

Ethnographic Arms & Armour (
-   Ethnographic Weapons (
-   -   Sudanese axe types (

Iain 19th March 2013 08:43 PM

Sudanese axe types
I was wondering if anyone has examples of Fur axes. I ran across a reference today in Nicholle's "Lawrence and the Arab Revolts" to the safariq (a heavy wooden axe), among the warriors of the Dar Fur sultanate.

I'm curious what it is and how it looks given that there's a specific term for it mentioned. I couldn't find anything about it other than in Nicholle's work.

Anybody have further info on this?


colin henshaw 19th March 2013 10:03 PM

Hi Iain

The only thing I can think of are...the various wooden throwing sticks/clubs from that area, but they are not really "axes".

Jim McDougall 20th March 2013 02:37 AM

Hi Iain,
I think Colin is right, I found this:

"..the Fur usually carry a quiver full of barbed throwing spears and a knife, but thier most distinctive weapon is the safaroq (pl. safariq) or throwing stick, made from the roots of inderab or kutr bush. Practically every Fur carries these and they are most expert in thier use. They chiefly emply them for killing hares and guinea fowl, but when the occasion rises, for injuring the legs of the horses ridden by thier foes".

"A History of the Arabs in the Sudan"
Vol. 1 (Darfur) p.113, H.A.MacMichael 1922 (1967)

It seems like this tactic corresponds with typical Hadendoa and other Sudanese warriors who often used the kaskara in hamstringing horses.

All the best,

Iain 20th March 2013 09:39 AM

1 Attachment(s)
Hi Colin and Jim,

Well that didn't take long to clear up! All makes sense now. The word "axe" is just what confused me.

Attached a photo of what the subject item should be then. Circa 1965.

Many thanks for helping clear the fog out of my brain and seeing this for what it is. :)

Jim McDougall 20th March 2013 03:55 PM

Iain, that looks remarkably like the simple line representations shown in MacMillan. Wonder how Nicolle could have interpolated the word axe?

Iain 20th March 2013 04:01 PM

Hi Jim,

Only thing I can think of is that the curve in the throwing stick reminded him of an axe shape?

To be fair, my understanding is that some of these were indeed used like a club and not exclusively thrown. Much like the metal Ingessana throwing knives - which were apparently cappable of being thrown but demonstrated as more of a sword-like weapon see Ingessana Throwing Knives (Sudan) M. C. Jedrej Anthropos , Bd. 70, H. 1./2. (1975), pp. 42-48.



Tim Simmons 20th March 2013 04:50 PM

2 Attachment(s)
I think this is one.

Luc LEFEBVRE 21st March 2013 06:18 PM

1 Attachment(s)
A man (identified as Sirdal) holding a large hide shield covering his body with two spears behind it, as well as a luin (Arabic, trombash) or throwing stick in his right hand held by his side. The long building with small windows to his side is identified as a rest-house (possibly hospital related) at the settlement of Baw (wisko).
Edward Evan Evans-Pritchard
Date of Photo:
1926 November - December
Blue Nile Tabi Hills Baw
Ingessana (Gaam)

Luc LEFEBVRE 21st March 2013 06:20 PM

1 Attachment(s)
Throwing weapon carved from a single piece of wood and with a flat, rectangular section throughout. This consists of a broad splaying head cut flat across the top edge, and carved with 2 elongated triangular spikes projecting from either side, and 2 shorter spurs below on one side only. This head then tapers in to a curving handle that gradually narrows towards its end, splaying out again slightly at the butt. The sides of the object have been cut straight, except for the 2 curved areas between the projecting spikes, where the edges have been cut at an angle. The wood has been stained a dark reddish brown (Pantone 4695C) and polished. The object is complete and intact; the spikes on one side appear to be worn and damaged at their tips. It has a weight of 575.3 grams and is 692 mm long, with a head width of 320 mm and thickness of 12 mm, while the handle end is 36.2 mm wide and 11.5 mm thick.

Collected by L. Gorringe in the Sudan sometime between 1902 and 1912, and donated to the Museum by his widow in October 1944.

Similar throwing sticks, called luny, were used by the Ingessana in hunting and warfare - see C. Spring, 1993, African Arms and Armour, fig. 69, p. 77 and R. Boccassino, 1960, "Contributo allo studio della ergologia delle popolazioni nilotiche e nilo-camitiche, Annali Lateranensi XXIV, fig. 32a-e It may also be related in some way to the flat bladed weapon collected from the Murle by Petherick (1884.12.8) .

Luc LEFEBVRE 21st March 2013 06:23 PM

2 Attachment(s)
A man demonstrating the throwing of a curved throwing weapon with a bulbous end, on the lower slopes of the jebel, rising some 1,000 feet out of the Blue Nile plain, and with a circumference of some five miles. The Seligman's visited this location during their 1910 expedition to make investigations into physical anthropology as well as aracheology.
Charles Gabriel Seligman
Date of Photo:
1910 March-April
Blue Nile Jebel Gule

Luc LEFEBVRE 21st March 2013 06:30 PM

2 Attachment(s)
Ingessana throwing knives
"muder" the scorpion
"saļ" the snake

Iain 21st March 2013 06:38 PM

Thanks for posting the photos and your Ingessana examples Luc. For the benefit of other readers a description of the animal motifs on both is perhaps in order as the designs incorporate more than just the snake and scorpion, notably the spider as well on the sai. Taken from the excellent work by Jedrej on these knives.

The designs on the blade are fixed and different for both the varieties.
The muder features a scorpion (deit) on the left side and an insect called fil
on the other. Fil is a water insect and often stings people who are bathing
but the pain is slight relative to that inflicted by a scorpion. The sai also
carries two creatures from nature, the snake (der) and the spider (maras) 2.
Both are represented on each side of the blade and spider four times in all,
twice on each side. The shank and hilt of each variety are engraved with either
pairs of small incisions (representing the footprints of a small deer, mofor)
or parallel zig-zag lines called 'the millepede' (dongole) and sometimes combi-
nations of both. The design here reflects the preference of the client or smith.
First of all we may note the emergence of a simple paradigm. There is
a clear opposition between the blade of the weapon and the handle. This is
particularly marked in Ingessana terms as the top or head and the bottom
or loins. On the head are designs that are fixed, on the loins are designs that
are optional, the former are derived from harmful creatures and the latter
from the harmless. Now these designs are derived from nature and are in
turn opposed to a design derivative in the first instance from culture, the kwir.
This element is appropriately on the neck of the knife between the top and
the bottom.

All times are GMT. The time now is 07:29 AM.

Powered by: vBulletin Version 3.0.3
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.