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Old 10th February 2013, 10:14 PM   #1
Iain
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Default Spear ID - Niger or West African?

Hi all,

Just picked this up this evening. Not sure of an exact attribution. The head is similar to some forms of Tuareg allarh (L’Allarh Gerigéri) while the butt is also clearly Sahel work to me - although I could be wrong!

The wire wrapped shaft is a bit more of an unknown. Overall not a real big one - 163cm or a bit over 5 feet.

The head looks to be very thick and very well made.

Any ideas? I'll take more pics when I have it in hand hopefully next week.
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Old 11th February 2013, 11:17 AM   #2
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Very nice.
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Old 11th February 2013, 12:15 PM   #3
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as granny would say, "you could poke somebody's eye out with that". you should send it to me so i can keep it away from the children for you

nice , wherever it came from...
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Old 11th February 2013, 02:38 PM   #4
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Glad you guys like the look of it. It was a bit of an impulse buy so it's good to hear it has a bit of appeal.

No thoughts on an ethnic or regional ID? I've never run across something similar. My resources on spears are slim but a quick glance through Stone, Waffen aus Zentral Afrika, and a few others didn't turn up even a remote match for a spear head of that style. Closest thing I've found is this spear head from the Musée de l'infanterie in France - labeled as Tuareg.
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Old 11th February 2013, 03:15 PM   #5
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Could be anywhere south Sahara lots of people sharing much art styles. By the Bill Marsh has an all version but I cannot find the thread. We do not here much from Bill these days.
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Old 11th February 2013, 06:10 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim Simmons
Could be anywhere south Sahara lots of people sharing much art styles. By the Bill Marsh has an all version but I cannot find the thread. We do not here much from Bill these days.


Hi Tim,

Too true - often frustrating trying to be anything close to precise when it comes to anything Sahel - I'll try to find Bill's thread.
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Old 11th February 2013, 07:39 PM   #7
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my inital impression was 1. too short for a lance 2. vague resemblance to a well decorated masai lion spear. 3. also would make a nice javelin from horseback.
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Old 12th February 2013, 09:51 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kronckew
my inital impression was 1. too short for a lance 2. vague resemblance to a well decorated masai lion spear. 3. also would make a nice javelin from horseback.


The javelin idea has crossed my mind as well. Although most of the ones I've seen before are a bit shorter - sort of a dart and with smaller heads. I'll be curious about the weight when I get it in hand, the construction make it look a bit heavy for throwing?

Still looking around for other spear heads with this shape to compare it to from the general Sahel region. Not turning up much yet.
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Old 12th February 2013, 12:46 PM   #9
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Old 12th February 2013, 03:54 PM   #10
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Thanks Tim! I remember your Mandara area spear - very impressive item. Now that you reminded me I have been busy lusting for it again.

I would find the one I bought less "odd" if it had a steel shaft as well. The wood is just somehow an odd combination with the heavy duty ironwork on the rest of it.

The square,cube motifs reminded me of Tuareg work, but then again, I am now remembering I also have a Mandara region spear head with a square block... The spiral wiring though... Still confusing me!
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Old 12th February 2013, 11:18 PM   #11
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Very interesting spear...Probably from the northern part of Africa - but would Arabian origin be a big nonsense ? (what about heavier kind of javelin with "armour piercing" head ?)
For comparision I enclose some parts of spears from Africa south of Sahara which are a little bit uggestive of this spear:
The iron pointed shoe (or maybe spearhead ?) of square cross-section was bought separately in Addis Ababa (two pictures).
Second from the left on the group photo is thick spearhead of similar shape - allegedly from Chad, but it was bought in Nigeria. 5th from the left, the slender one with two strange square segments, is Shewa Arab spearhead from North-Eastern Nigeria/Kanuri region (if we can believe the vendor...) - .
(Small remark concerning the wiring: There are cases of barrels of long guns held to the stock with very thin iron wire instead of classical cappucines in North Africa - just that the wire was for disposal ...
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Old 13th February 2013, 10:21 AM   #12
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Hi Martin,

I guess Arab is possible? But I thought the decorative style would point against that.

Thanks for sharing your spear heads - very impressive collection. Number 2 from the left is perhaps the closest in profile. I also must say the 4th from the left is really beautiful!

Thanks for the note about wire - I looked at a few examples and I am more comfortable now about it. It was just not a usual wrapping on spears or other weapons in the Sahel region for me. But I guess it also occurs frequently in jewelry and other items from these regions and is absolutely a normal material.
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Old 15th February 2013, 03:56 PM   #14
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Hi Martin,

Thanks for the links. I'm sure its a javelin for throwing now - having just received it last night.

The light is too poor here for a proper photo, but here's a couple very quick and poor images next to a takouba to give a sense of scale.
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Old 16th February 2013, 01:04 PM   #15
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Did my best with photos today. Not great but hopefully allows for seeing a bit more detail.
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Old 16th February 2013, 02:13 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Iain
Hi all,

Just picked this up this evening. Not sure of an exact attribution. The head is similar to some forms of Tuareg allarh (L’Allarh Gerigéri) while the butt is also clearly Sahel work to me - although I could be wrong!

The wire wrapped shaft is a bit more of an unknown. Overall not a real big one - 163cm or a bit over 5 feet.

The head looks to be very thick and very well made.

Any ideas? I'll take more pics when I have it in hand hopefully next week.



Very nice spear Iain. There is something very similar in A C Tirri's book "Islamic Weapons" described as Indian, Maratha, known as a "Bhala".


Regards.
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Old 16th February 2013, 09:35 PM   #17
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That is true. This Bhala spearhead is really very similar ! So isn´t this "javelin", after all, comming from Indian sub-continent ?
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Old 17th February 2013, 10:52 AM   #18
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Hi Colin and Martin,

Unfortunately I don't have the book. Is there any chance you would have the time to take a photo or scan of the page in question? I'm quite curious to see it.

I'd actually asked around behind the scenes about the Indian aspect and from the couple folks I asked the consensus seemed to be that the shoe/butt with the square like decorative motif didn't seem very Indian?
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Old 17th February 2013, 11:47 AM   #19
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Here it is - from the book by Anthony C Tirri "Islamic Weapons" 2003.

(Hope this is OK regarding copyright)

Regards.
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Old 17th February 2013, 01:52 PM   #20
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Hi Colin,

Many thanks - that's pretty darn close in terms of the head shape. I guess mine is Indian as well then. Makes sense now as the head shape is a bit different than anything African I've seen and the wire wrap on the handle seemed out of place for a Sahel weapon.
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