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Old 28th February 2024, 02:35 PM   #1
Ian
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Default Old knife from period of the Anglo-Zulu Wars

This knife was brought back to England in the late 1880s and has been in the family since that time. I don't know the name of the man or the family. The knife is heavily patinated but appears to have survived well. Given the timing of the individual's return to England, shortly after the period of the Anglo-Zulu Wars, the knife is probably from that general era. Whether it came from the conflict is lost to time.

It is uncommon in my experience to find old African knives with a reasonably well defined date. OAL = 42 cm (~16.5 in.)
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Last edited by Ian; 1st March 2024 at 06:52 AM.
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Old 28th February 2024, 03:10 PM   #2
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Hi Ian,

It's not Zulu but from the Congo, I would need to search for it but the blade shape and the bullen nails are the give-away!

Regards,
Detlef
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Old 28th February 2024, 03:33 PM   #3
Marc M.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sajen View Post
Hi Ian,

It's not Zulu but from the Congo, I would need to search for it but the blade shape and the bullen nails are the give-away!

Regards,
Detlef
Detlef is correct, Mongo, Saka and ngandu in Central Kongo.

regards
Marc
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Old 28th February 2024, 10:21 PM   #4
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Thanks guys. I appreciate the correction. The Congo is an odd place for an Englishman to be in the late 19th C. Like so many "family stories," they are often erroneous. The age, however, seems reliable.
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Old 28th February 2024, 10:49 PM   #5
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Quote:
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The age, however, seems reliable.
I would agree Ian! Can need some care IMO.

Regards,
Detlef
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Old 29th February 2024, 12:21 AM   #6
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Probably ended up in Sudan at some point in its journey. Englishmen were more than common there. Also, it could have been picked up or traded by Christian missionaries in the Congo like many weapons or objects during that time period. I believe many Europeans dispatched from Kartoum in Sudan in the coming and going from the Northern Congo Region for ease of travel routes and access to resources.

-Geoffrey
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Old 29th February 2024, 04:13 AM   #7
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Thanks Geoffrey and Detlef for your comments. Yes, a much traveled item. I agree, Detlef, this one has been neglected for a long time and needs some TLC.
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Old 29th February 2024, 08:42 AM   #8
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Lovely knife
English explorers were in Congo in the 1880's for instance when Stanley was doing his expeditions.
So the story could be true but 140 years of more than likely Oral history is going to get things wrong.
As to cleaning I would not do anything to it looks great as is.
Keep well
Ken
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Old 29th February 2024, 07:13 PM   #9
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Thanks Ken. Yes, it is a lovely knife. I will clean some of the dirt and grime off it--just a runover with a damp cloth--and oil the blade. The hilt may need some help if it has dried out a lot.
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Old 29th February 2024, 07:27 PM   #10
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I think it might be a Tetela knife, both the shape of the knife as also the use of nails in the wooden grip is often seen with the Tetela people (AKA Batetela),
although the nails decoration is also present with other tribes
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Old 29th February 2024, 07:31 PM   #11
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Thanks gp
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Old 29th February 2024, 07:42 PM   #12
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adddition: it could also be from the neighbouring Konda's..
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Old 29th February 2024, 08:38 PM   #13
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Quote:
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As to cleaning I would not do anything to it looks great as is.
Hello Ken,

You're not really serious?
The blade shows encrusted rust at the base as the iron binding on the handle as well, to preserve such a nice knife for future generations this should get removed. The wood looks extremely dry, Ian stated this as well, so it needs to get oiled, for the same reason, to preserve it before it falls apart piece after piece.
The surface from the pommel looks very dirty on the pic, when you display antiques you will know that insects leave their residues everywhere, dust covers wood after one week already, many collectors don't care enough (in museums sometimes also) for their items. Cleaning the wood with oil rubbing helps to preserve the wood.
The bullen nails will be from brass as well the finer binding in up from the handle, to polish it up a little bit will show why they were attached originally.
The blade can receive an oil rubbing with 000 steel wool, with this you don't remove the partly black surface but flash rust the blade has received in the last decades.
You don't destroy the patination but highlight them IMVHO.

To leave it in this state doesn't help to preserve it and it doesn't enjoy the eyes when you look at it.

Regards,
Detlef
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Old 29th February 2024, 11:43 PM   #14
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I can confirm Detlev's advise; without any decent restoration, read even only a little cleaning, these lovely knives will only deteriote and leave you at the end with "pulverized" pieces of what once was a nice dagger.

I showed some of mine Congolese ones to a professional who does provide his services to the likes of Sotheby's and the like and he did indeed advised me the same as "uncle" Detlev does.

If you do not want to go for the full Monthy, thst's OK but some natural uncolored oil will do the job and you will be delighted by the result, for sure !
I did it to 2 scarification knives and a Zande sword.

best regards

Gunar
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