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Old 11th April 2012, 10:05 AM   #1
Iain
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Default Cameroon lance head

A recent purchase some members might find interesting. I don't often purchase spears due to shipping difficulties and length. However this one really caught my attention.

It is from the northern region of Cameroon, bordering Chad and Nigeria. Spears such as these can still be seen in parades to this day in the region. I am including a photo found on Flickr of such an event.

This example is fairly large, 74cm overall and the blade 51.5cm. It is extremely well made, with excellent forging and a strong and thick profile.

All comments welcome.
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Old 11th April 2012, 11:47 AM   #2
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Congratulations mate, this is a lovely piece. I dont have anything to add due to my lack of experience in this field but I really like it!

Interesting costumes those chaps are wearing.
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Old 11th April 2012, 02:37 PM   #3
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really nice. i'd like to have one.

what kind of wood do they use for the lance shafts? looks fairly small diameter, so it'd have to be a quite strong wood.
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Old 11th April 2012, 02:59 PM   #4
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Looks like a very nice piece Iain - wish I knew more about African lances and spears - but there is so much I'd like to know more about
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Old 11th April 2012, 03:33 PM   #5
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Thanks for the comments.

Kronckew, I wish I could give a better answer but I really am not sure. These areas are fairly "scrubby" without a lot of major hardwood trees. I have read before in the Sahel regions the wood warps quite often so I guess they replaced the shafts fairly frequently.

I found this image on the forum which shows a pretty similar spear fully mounted. You can see there would be a small iron counterweight but really quite simple without the big butt spikes other Sahel spears have.
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Old 11th April 2012, 04:00 PM   #6
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Hi Iain,

I have nothing to add from "scholarly" point of view. Very nice piece !
Regards,
Martin
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Old 11th April 2012, 04:23 PM   #7
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Don't forget, it's also possible to straighten a pole when it's green (using heat), and many scrub woods are quite hard. There's a bush near me called "mountain mahogany," not because it looks like mahogany, but because of the hardness of the wood.

Best,

F
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Old 11th April 2012, 07:32 PM   #8
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Hi Fearn,

That's a good point and quite probably a technique used in the area. I have to admit I haven't studied the construction behind these very much. I probably should see what I can find out! I do think in Cameroon there was better access to wood then for example in the more desert regions inhabited by the Tuareg - hence the Tuareg all iron lances.
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Old 12th April 2012, 09:42 AM   #9
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A nice spear head, well made. Interesting image too...

Regards.
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Old 12th April 2012, 10:24 AM   #10
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Thanks Colin, the image is from Ngaoundere in the Adamawa region and was the site of a proxy Fulani state after the 19th century Jihads. There is an interesting set of photos on Flickr from the city and their Durbar. Plenty of takouba and spears on display!

http://www.flickr.com/photos/marcel...in/photostream/
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Old 12th April 2012, 01:34 PM   #11
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Great pictures, Iain - thanks for showing. There are some big trees in the background that could produce a lot of spear shafts !
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Old 12th April 2012, 01:56 PM   #12
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Hi Colin, you are absolutely right. This is a bit more in the center of Cameroon so I guess their are some forests and larger trees. Photos from Mandara, north and west of here, has always looked more scrubby to me. But I'm certainly no expert on the area.

The shafts in the images I linked to seem fairly light weight but more than capable of getting the job done. Certainly not the monsters used up in Bornu though!
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Old 12th April 2012, 02:05 PM   #13
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Default a sword

Iain, as I have mentioned, a very nice and inspiring spear head.
Something else I find interesting from the image you presented of the cavalry if the chap on the far left with his back to the camera, he carries a sabre with knuckle guard.....are there know examples used in these regions, captured or otherwise?

Gav
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Old 12th April 2012, 02:34 PM   #14
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Hi Gav,

I have often seen Hausa and Fulani with military sabres, I presume French and perhaps in the case of Cameroon German in origin. I've even seen a small sword carried by one fellow!

This is not really a case of abandoning traditional forms I think, in some of the regalia in the Hausa emirates there are foreign blades. If memory serves me correctly some Ottoman or Arab. So it's certainly not an exclusively new thing.

Since there never seemed to have been qualms in hilting up quality European blades it doesn't surprise me that if a good brass hilt happened along it would be put to good use.

Cheers,

Iain

EDIT: found a couple of the photos I meant:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/810767...in/photostream/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/20086368@N06/2063180329/
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Old 16th April 2012, 05:55 PM   #15
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I have been meaning to add this. I believe it comes from the border regions of Nigeria/Cameroon. 150cm long. The snake skin pattern engraving covers the whole thing. I have rather lost interest in collecting some African bits but I like this. I realise it will have limited appeal but how many others have you seen? Especially when you think about the millions of Congo bits that are about and priced as if they were rare.
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Old 17th April 2012, 10:17 AM   #16
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An interesting item Tim. Can't recall having seen anything similar but my memory is poor and my experience with spears rather lacking. The style of the work could certainly fit the region.

The construction makes me think perhaps a staff of office?
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Old 17th April 2012, 07:48 PM   #17
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This is another interesting spearhead. The length is 95 cms, maximal width of the blade is 4.3 cms, inner diameter of the sleeve is only 2 cms. The bulbous part is made of bronze, the blade is steel. It should be Cameroon, but I am not sure about more detailed location. My idea is the engravings on the blade are Touareg - like, the bronze part is like from Vere or Mambila region (?; strange mixture). Curator of African collection in Naprstek Museum in Prague is of the opinion this comes from grassland (?)
Regards,
Martin
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Old 17th April 2012, 07:54 PM   #18
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one picture more
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Old 17th April 2012, 09:18 PM   #19
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Very interesting Martin. The pattern in the bronze certainly appears on Vere daggers but I have also seen it on other groups as well. Thanks for sharing.
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Old 31st December 2013, 09:01 PM   #20
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Hi Martin,

To bring this old thread back to life, I received today this lance head which is like the one you showed. Only mine is smaller at 67cm.

Blade design is similar, interestingly mine has a little leather scabbard, not a feature I saw before.
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Old 31st December 2013, 09:17 PM   #21
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Hi Iain,
This is really very interesting piece. Congratulations
Martin
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Old 1st January 2014, 09:54 AM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Martin Lubojacky
Hi Iain,
This is really very interesting piece. Congratulations
Martin


Thanks Martin, here is another photo to show the scale better against my other lance head.
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Old 1st January 2014, 10:56 AM   #23
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I found few images from a parade in Ngaoundere in Cameroon which show similar scabbards on spears.

Images are taken from flickr on this link: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mikara...57606151530689/
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