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Old 21st March 2006, 05:20 PM   #1
katana
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Default Sjamboks? 4 rhino hide whips

Has anyone any information about African whips?
I have just bought a 'job lot' of African items, which had been exhibits in the 'Commonwealth Institute', London in 1964. It included 4 rhino hide whips of differing sizes and design.

1. 30'' / 77cm long leather wrapped handle with plaited knot at the base of the handle. 12mm diameter tapering to 5mm (similar to a riding crop)

2. 37'' / 94cm long, plain with wrist strap, very flexable, 17mm diameter tapering to 6mm (Sjambok ?)

3. 47'' / 120cm long, plain 20mm diameter tapering to 6mm (Sjambok ?)

4 50'' / 128cm long, plain, broken wrist strap 15mm diameter for approx. 18'' / 46cm of its length, then sharply tapers to 5 mm diameter for the final 18'' or so.

It is my understanding that whips tended to be used as weapons/ self defence and well as their usual tasks. Being of Rhino hide I suspect that they are now rare, since Rhino's are now protected (quite rightly). Will try to sort out some photo's if there is any interest. Please any info will be greatly appreciated, thankyou
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Old 21st March 2006, 06:16 PM   #2
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Ive had a few of them over the years.

Many of them are made of hippo hide as well as Rhino. I dont know how one can tell which is which.

They are carved & rolled between metal plates to shape. They Start out as long strips about an inch thick cut from the back hide of rhino & hippo.

The commonest tribal use is for driving cattle. Was also commonly used by police for riot control & punishment. And for self defense fighting amongst both farmers & township folk.

They leave a particular category of wound as the rip the flesh open like a blade but with crushed edges to the wound, which makes it a difficult wound to treat apparently.

Today in the town ships most are made from semi-melted rolled together plastic bin liners.

Used throughout southern Africa & up to Sudan & Egypt.

They come in a multitude of styles.

Photos would be intresting.

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Old 21st March 2006, 06:26 PM   #3
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Thanks for that.
The whips still are tagged and state Rhino, however, two are a 'dirty' cream colour, the other two very dark greyish/black colour. So unless the hide is coloured some how, it suggests possible two differing hides. I will try to post photo's soon.
A couple of the whips are 'age hardened' can anyone suggest how I can soften them so that they regain their flexability. Would 'leather feed' be a good idea? Or soaking them in oil (vegetable?)

Last edited by katana : 21st March 2006 at 07:24 PM.
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Old 21st March 2006, 07:38 PM   #4
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These are not my own photo's but are representative of the whips
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Old 21st March 2006, 08:19 PM   #5
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Ahh! my flagellate, my just rewards.
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Old 21st March 2006, 08:40 PM   #6
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Yes intresting, the darker ones I had were heavier than than the lighter coloured. My suspician is rhino would be heavier but thats is just a guess so could be tottaly wrong.

They are meant to be fairly stiff, like thick wire filled cable if you bend them them hold the bent position for a while before straightening slowly,have but one I tried to soften a bit with neatsfoot oil, sadley it became very floppy & whippy unlike a real sjambok.

The longest one of yours looks very weaponlike the shorter sturdy ones are typical of herdsman tools.


Tim. Youd have to have some serious tastes to like those, they can cut to the bone, even through clothing!

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Old 22nd March 2006, 10:50 AM   #7
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Thanks Spiral,
I sourced info on the web, the longer is almost definately used as a weapon. Not only as a whip 'weapon' but also in a 'fencing style', thrusting at the eyes.... painful . The shorter but similar one, could , apparently, also be classed as a Sjambok. As with swords, a long sword would be inaffective in a confined space. Hence the reason for Samurai carrying two swords, a katana in an alley way would not be as effective compared to the shorter wakizashi, or the even shorter tanto .
Has anyone any ideas as to value, I'm thinking of flogging (sorry ) one or two of them.
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Old 22nd March 2006, 01:20 PM   #8
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There all Sjambok even the herdsmans tools.

I think in some countries they call them Kibboko or something like that as well.

In rural English Antiques & junk shops amongst the sticks & canes normaly about 20/25.

May be more in auction? or in posher antique shops, or they would sell easily on ebay.

Although if they are Rhino it would have to be UK only sales. No export.

If you live in London a trip up the Portebelo rd on Saterday morning should unload them.



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