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Old 7th December 2008, 07:44 PM   #1
Waterbuck
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Default Zulu wire work

I am new to this forum so forgive me if this has been asked before. I have attached two photos of Zulu spears with wire bindings, I would like to hear comments on what time period this type of work was performed in, thanks.



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Old 8th December 2008, 03:12 PM   #2
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I've tended to think of this type of wirework being late 19th/early 20th century, with the increased availability of European-made brass, copper & iron wire. Although African blacksmiths/artisans had mastered wire-drawing and could make quite fine wire. I have also seen this type of work done on modern productions from Southern Africa. (But your spears shown are old ones).

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Old 8th December 2008, 03:14 PM   #3
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Hi Waterbuck and welcome to the forum.

Your spears are very nice examples I would think these are 1890-1920 as far as age goes.


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Old 8th December 2008, 06:49 PM   #4
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Drawing wire has been a venerable craft in central and southern Africa for hundreds of years. It is believed that this was mostly drawing copper wire. Brass is know and examples have been found in southern Africa but again it is believed that the widespread use of brass is after European imports or more importantly the native manufacture of brass could not compete with European imports. A book "Red Gold of Africa, Copper in Precolonial History and Culture" University of Wisconsin press, is a good introduction and basic over view of non ferrous metal in Africa. So it is quite possibly that your examples could well come from earlier in the 19th century.

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Old 8th December 2008, 11:55 PM   #5
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I DON'T KNOW THE ORIGIN OF WIRE IN GENERAL BUT COPPER WIRE WAS INVINTED WHEN A DUTCHMAN AND A SCOTSMAN GOT IN A FIGHT OVER A PENNY THE JOKE IS PROBABLY AS OLD AS WIRE

NICE SPEARS AND VERY GOOD TO HAVE DIFFERENT STYLES AND AGES. JUST GUESSING BUT IS THE TOP ONE THE OLDEST?
I WAS WONDERING WHAT THE AGE OF THE ZULU WIREWORK USING IRON WIRE WAS AS I HAVE SEEN MORE EXAMPLES OF THAT THAN THE OTHERS. DOES IT PREDATE THE COPPER AND BRASS OR DOES IT COME AFTER.?
TODAY THEY FAVOR THE COLORFUL TELEPHONE WIRES BUT I HAVEN'T SEEN IT ON A SPEAR YET JUST CLUBS AND BOWLS.
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Old 11th December 2008, 03:08 PM   #6
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The zinc needed to make true brasses could come from trade to the east as mentioned in the book. Tin was exported from areas of southern Africa. It is also more than possible that zinc was traded by caravan like metals were across the Sahara, from the north? How long has zinc been used on Kaskara and Somali sword fittings. So even without firm archaeological evidance of zinc at smelting sites which does seem elusive in Sub Saharan African, Africa is a huge land mass and investigations into these questions are indeed recent endevours. To concluded that brass was therefore absent in southern Africa before European trade could be short sighted.
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Old 12th December 2008, 04:52 PM   #7
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The picture below shows a spear (longest one) that was originally purchased from a Zulu near the Buffalo river and it was said to have been used against the British in 1879 at Rorke’s Drift. I have provenance all the way back to Zululand.

The wire work is in poor condition and generally matches the very old age of the very heavily pitted blade and dark shaft.

The wirework on the broad headed spear is copper, whilst the age appears to match the rest of the spear, I though it may have been added later.

With the spears in my first post all appear very old, but I have wondered if some of the wire work may have been added at a later date.

I also included two Knobkerries that both have wire work, but more on Knobkerries later.



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Old 15th December 2008, 04:38 PM   #8
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The picture below shows a spear (longest one) that was originally purchased from a Zulu near the Buffalo river and it was said to have been used against the British in 1879 at Rorke’s Drift. I have provenance all the way back to Zululand.

The wire work is in poor condition and generally matches the very old age of the very heavily pitted blade and dark shaft.

The wirework on the broad headed spear is copper, whilst the age appears to match the rest of the spear, I though it may have been added later.

With the spears in my first post all appear very old, but I have wondered if some of the wire work may have been added at a later date.

I also included two Knobkerries that both have wire work, but more on Knobkerries later.



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Old 17th December 2008, 08:55 AM   #9
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Very nice indeed.
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Old 17th December 2008, 08:25 PM   #10
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Another thought on brass in Africa. The book I mentioned has no referance to ancient Rome and Africa, trade across the sahara would have existed then. Romans and ancient Egypt which included much of the present day Sudan. So brass as a material or technology could have been traded by this route well before the classic age of European exploration without mentioning the superior metals coming from the east. All early explorers like Speke and Burton mention brass in the most isolated places.

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Old 29th December 2008, 08:45 PM   #11
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This is a most interesting link concerning Brasses in Africa, full of academic angst but at least the ancient Roman world is mentioned. Interesting comments on brass from ancient Anatolia and Oman. I find it hard to believe that Christianity can be established in Africa "Ethiopia" centuries before the classic age of European exploration and yet acedemics struggle to think that African technology is no older than the arrival of European Trade. Ivory towers

http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/c...30404/PDFSTART

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Old 30th December 2008, 11:17 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim Simmons
This is a most interesting link concerning Brasses in Africa, full of academic angst but at least the ancient Roman world is mentioned. Interesting comments on brass from ancient Anatolia and Oman. I find it hard to believe that Christianity can be established in Africa "Ethiopia" centuries before the classic age of European exploration and yet acedemics struggle to think that African technology is no older than the arrival of European Trade. Ivory towers

http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/c...30404/PDFSTART

I deeply agree with you, Tim. Greeks had a big influence over the cartaginean empire and diffused helenism over all North Africa. This empire had many links with Central Africa trade trought itīs allies. Alexandria was for many centuries one of the most advanced cultural centers of the world after the fall of the Western Roman Empire, and the presence of the Eastern Roman Empire there was also great. At that time, North Africa was more embedded in the classic culture than all Europe put together. The arabs had a more advanced metallurgy than europeans in the Middle Age. And all that had some influx over many african areas thought trade. Brass was widely used by arabs in North Africa on their magnificent works with this metal and it is not a difficult metal to make wire with. There was an ancient trade among the islands in the area of South India, and North Africa, and one of that islands was a great producer of tin, latter exploited by europeans. I donīt have much information about tin production on Central and South Africa because it is not an area I have read much about it, but brass could be easily infiltrated by commerce very far to the south. Anyway, brass was noit made with tin, but with zinc. Bronze was made with tin, but it is another alloy. There are many assumptions to be revised throught the light of a scientific research of archaeology and history. As you know, Central and South Africa had more "primitive" technologies not because intrinsic limitations, but for the natural barriers to the communication with the rest of the world and their relative isolation, as it was also the case with Australia and the Sout Pacific Area, and also, with the american continent, tough the former had civilizations with more developed scientific knowledge in some areas than the european in the so called "Age of Discoveries" and before. The development of navigation, based on an intercontinental intercourse of ideas and inventions, solved many of this problems. Thank you for the link, as I intend to make use of this source. There are some old and new good books about the history of the metallurgy which dreserve a good reading.
Regards

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Old 13th August 2009, 05:30 PM   #13
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I think that today it is sensible to assume that brass was indeed available for thousands of years through out Africa. Scroll down to the last section of page 4 and it is BM official.
http://www.britishmuseum.org/PDF/bri..._benin_art.pdf
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