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Old 21st March 2005, 07:14 PM   #1
Conogre
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Default Mandingo Shield

I just picked this little gem up and I'm assuming, perhaps incorrectly, that it's a ceremonial shield.
Are the terms Mandingo and manding interchangeable, or are they two seperate groups?
Until now, I've seen the manding swords with their distinctive leatherwork and likewise a form of knife and scabbard attributed to the same people, with several other knives reputed to be from nearby tribes often found in similar sheathes, making me suspect that their leather working skills are held in high regards for a considerable distance.
This shield is only about 19" across, part of the reason I suspected it may be ceremonial, such as a funiery piece, but in truth, it's the first time I've ever heard of a shield of the Mandingo (Manding?) in any contect.
Does anyone have any information on any of this that they'd care to share?
Mike
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Old 21st March 2005, 07:24 PM   #2
Montino Bourbon
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Looks like a man with a gun on the left, bow and arrows on right; I would guess that it has ceremonial applications. Small shields like this can and were used in combat as well.

Is it solid leather?
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Old 21st March 2005, 07:40 PM   #3
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Duh!!!!
I'm truly sorry....no, the entire shield is carved from hardwood, with the handle integral to the body, meaning that it was all carved in one piece.
That figure with the rifle is rather obvious, eh?
That definitely dates the piece as post European contact no matter how you look at it! **grin**
I suspect that it's early 20th century, possibly late 19th as wood tends to survive longer in arrid and semi-arid regions.
In all seriousness, the fact that it escaped the cooking fires would seem to indicate that it was taken quite some time ago.
Likewise, many such items were buried with the owner as they were percieved as being needed in the afterlife.
In connection with another recent thread on iron, I was also surprised to find that many items, such as spears and axes WEREN'T buried in parts of Africa as it was sometimes felt that the weapon heads, by not disintegrating, such as wood and leather would do, might tie the spirit here and anger them, with no-one wanting an angry ancestor spirit hovering around the vicinity, thus possibly becomming vindictive.
Mike
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Old 21st March 2005, 07:51 PM   #4
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I would agree that it possibly a dance shield or something like that.I would also say Manding origin or somewhere around the far north of Nigeria.I got Dr Lee to post a picture with a spear a year or some time back of a policeman/soldier like on your shield .The pics here are similar but I can not be sure this is a West African or East African policeman.Tim [IMG]http://[/IMG]
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Old 22nd March 2005, 01:39 AM   #5
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Yeah, Manding=Mandingo. The form Mandingo is out of fashion/politically incorrect in current N America; whether that is because "Manding" is more linguistically correct, or whether it's because of negative connotations from works of fiction and racist retoric (the term "Mandingo" for some reason conjures in the N American mind a very barbaric and warlike image; moreso than probably any other African tribe). People in general N American populace are generally unaware this is a real ethnic group; many consider "Mandingo" and the image that accompanies it to be a racial slur; some have tried to argue me out of my "racist" concept that there is such a people
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Old 29th March 2005, 05:21 PM   #6
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The pitfalls of using someone else's photos, even with their permission....the shield arrived yesterday and it's definitely NOT a dance shield, nor is it little...the dimensions are 18 1/2" high and 35" side to side, weighing in at 7 1/2 pounds!!!
There are very old cut marks evident in several places making me think that this is a very real war shield.
I tried to get Justin tho take a pic with me holding it last night for comparison, but alas the beer had flowed too freely, so I'll try again when I can get someone on the other side of the camera.
A lot of the confusion about the word "Mandingo" by the way arises out of 1950's novels and cheesey 1960's movies about inter-racial plantation sex in the American slave era south, with most in the US familiar with the genre concepts rather than aquainted with the real African tribe.
That spoon, by the way appears to be Ethiopian to me or possibly even Dahomey, from Benin, with both areas having worn thoose fez type hats.
In Spring's book the women of the King's Wives regiment from Dahomey are shown wearing them in two or three different illustrations.
Mike
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Old 29th March 2005, 06:35 PM   #7
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Nice shield. I like the artwork on it. The soldier in the left looks like European (English or French) of 19th century. For me this is a major proof of an original item. They shield themselves against (or with) a man of power.
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Old 29th March 2005, 11:56 PM   #8
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Very true Yannis.
Many American Indian clubs were fashioned to resemble rifles in an attempt to "steal their thunder" in battle, likewise some South Pacific war clubs and MANY African axes and prestige swords.
Often picturing the enemy on the front was supposed to give the user immunity to bullets rather like the animistic concept of "naming a demon", thus taking away it's power, a practice that even found its way into Judaism and even Christianity as part of the exorcism rights.
It's nice when the surprises are on the positive side, while all too often only the horror stories about frauds are heard.
Mike
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Old 4th May 2005, 02:20 PM   #9
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Default So called Mandingo shield

I have somewhere a 19th century photography of the personal guard of a Western african local petty king using this very kind of shield. Judging by the pic it seems to be quite large sizedof shield, covering most of the body of some guards crouching behind their shield. As far as I remember it is not a Mandigo (present day Mali-Senegal border area) shield but a Cameroonian shield (French cameroon, southern to the Mandingo dewelling area). I'll try to fin the pic, scan it and post it here in the coming day.
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Old 4th May 2005, 02:58 PM   #10
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Here's a photo of me with the shield for perspective...excuse the quality of the photo, but Murphy's Law is in full effect again, with an overcast, rainy day BUT I have someone to take the photo (if this breaks anyone's monitor, my apologies beforehand! **grin**)
The shield seems to be a large sparring shield of the type used against spears, knives and thrown projectiles, relying on the user's speed and maneuverability to knock aside the threat, just heavy enough for protection while still light enough for quickness.
Viewed in this light, it's actually perfectly shaped and just the right size, muc harder to achieve than one would suspect.
Your comment about the Cameroon aspect may well be dead on as well, always a possibility with Africa's often fluid population moves according to the political pressures of the moment and tendencies towards tribal genocide.
Ranges often varied by surprisingly large areas over very short periods of time, always a major problem in relation to tribes and geography.
Mike
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Last edited by Conogre : 4th May 2005 at 03:02 PM. Reason: add'l info
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Old 4th May 2005, 04:57 PM   #11
Lew
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Hey Mike

Stop spending all your money on shields and swords and buy some clothes
Nice shield congrats!

Lew
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Old 4th May 2005, 05:06 PM   #12
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Lew , you owe me a new keyboard !

Mike, who's the canine backup ?
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Old 5th May 2005, 07:35 AM   #13
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LOL!
Clothes, in Florida?
OK, I'll bite....why?
As to the back up, Rick, that's Loki, my 15 month old German shepherd/Doberman cross who tips the scales at about 115 lbs....the day I got him, at 4 weeks old, he inhaled a large cereal bowl of spicy chili without hesitation, a definite portent for the future.
While I use the affection method of training, on a partituarly stressful day I swatted his butt and broke 2 bones in my hand, which he took as an invitation to play..... I learn faster than he does.
Back to the photo....the shield is actually larger than many used like this and would actually stop a swing from a full sized sword if it had to.
As I said, when I recieved it, I was much more impressed than I had expected to be.
Any further info for the earlier Cameroon attributions would be appreciated.
Mike
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Old 5th May 2005, 09:30 AM   #14
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These two N American scientists said they met a nude woman in the forest in S America. She circled them warily, staring, and demanded what they were trying to cover? Did they have a skin disease?.....she just had no idea what those foreigners were doing with all that cloth all over them maybe neither did they
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