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Old 11th March 2013, 06:38 PM   #1
Tim Simmons
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Thumbs up S.Sudan N.Kenya shield

Just acquired this sheet steel Turkana, Acholi ect steel shield. 31 inches long, rather heavy so to my mind not a sport stick fighting parrying shield. It is clearly not 19th century. In the recent years we has gathered some members to the forum who are quite intrepid when it comes to travel in Africa. Can anyone give information on the use of shields in the days of the AK47 ? When did metal replaced traditional hide shields ? Have they co-existed through out the 20th century and are they still in use today ? I think it looks good.
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Old 11th March 2013, 11:46 PM   #2
Sajen
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Hello Tim, nice shield. I direct remember that a similar shield is shown in the book "Shields, Africa, Southeast Asia and Oceania from the Collections of the Barbier-Mueller Museum" on page 114. About the age they only write that they (the metal shields) developed later "which were, in words of older informants, safer, lighter and far better in combat than hide shields." The in black/white shown shield is: pole hight 104 cm, shield hight 94 cm and width 26 cm.
Furthermore is written: "Today, Kenyan game and hunting authorities have introduced strict fines and imprisonment for the illegal killing of animals. This, along with the ban on inter-clan warface, has virtually stopped the manufacture of these leather and metal shields in the region."

Regards,

Detlef

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Old 12th March 2013, 03:07 AM   #3
Battara
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Nice. Never have seen nor would have thought of a shield made of sheet steel.
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Old 12th March 2013, 04:37 AM   #4
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CHECK THE THICKNESS AND HIGHT OF THE SHEILD AGAINST A 55 GALLON STEEL DRUM AND YOU MAY FIND THE SOURCE OF THE METAL. IT IS LIKELY THEY GOT THE MATERIAL FROM SOMETHING IN THE AREA THAT WAS READILY AVAILABLE. THIS EXAMPLE IS NOT MADE OF ROOFING METAL , WITH A LOT OF CUTTING AND POUNDING SEVERAL SUCH SHIELDS COULD BE MADE FROM A STEEL BARREL. A NICE EXAMPLE REGARDLESS OF WHAT IT WAS MADE OF.
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Old 12th March 2013, 08:48 AM   #5
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Nice piece, I have a fine example of one too...having held both hide and steel, the steel one is much heaver though.
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Old 12th March 2013, 09:14 AM   #6
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Neat piece! Hadn't seen a metal example before. I think the barrel idea is likely to explain the source of the raw material.

The weight does seem prohibitive, but perhaps its more of a parade item.
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Old 12th March 2013, 09:49 AM   #7
colin henshaw
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My understanding is (as mentioned in Sajen's post), that the Turkana started making these shields out of scrap metal, in the traditional shape, when the Kenyan authorities stopped the hunting of game animals. Probably around the 1960s/70s or so.

Great sculptural form.

Regards.
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Old 12th March 2013, 10:27 AM   #8
Gavin Nugent
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Quote:
Originally Posted by colin henshaw
My understanding is (as mentioned in Sajen's post), that the Turkana started making these shields out of scrap metal, in the traditional shape, when the Kenyan authorities stopped the hunting of game animals. Probably around the 1960s/70s or so.

Great sculptural form.

Regards.
I can not recall where I read it but these shields were noted as early as 1920/30s? pring notes tin shields as being of recent times...I am guessing 70's
I have good provenance outlining certain sword types within Africa were made in the streets from available metals traded with sailors in the 1950s were I guess the post war market would have been hungry...I would guess too that scrap gathered in the 1940's during WWII would also have been used....so it would be reasonable to think that if the makers were astute enough during these periods their skill sets might have rolled back to the 20/30s
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Old 12th March 2013, 12:52 PM   #9
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Thank you for the interesting replies. I have found that the steel oil barrel was used for shipping oil in 1902. Very interesting link-

http://aoghs.org/wp-content/uploads/...tent-AOGHS.jpg

The first oil well in Kenya was drilled 1960

Detlef, thank you for the information on the shield. I have that publication and have checked it.
In all my jumble it can sometimes be hard to see the wood for the trees.

Gav, any more information would be good. Like you I have read of and seen examples of East African steel shields from the earlier part of the 20th century. Like the development of steel drum and decline in wild animals I should think the steel shield has been around for some time.
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Old 13th March 2013, 12:38 AM   #10
Martin Lubojacky
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Hi Tim,
This is nice shield. I did not know that this Turkana/Acholi style shields were made of steel, too.... Another steel shields were those ones of Fali/Kirdi style from the North Cameroon (similar to their leather brothers) and Amhara steel round shields covered with textile and adorned with brass strips (again similar to older leather ones; semi-finished pressed round steel corpuses were allegedly imported from Europe by flexible businessmen during 1st half of 20th century). I think now they use shields just for ceremonies etc. in Africa.
BTW, they are not able to make perfect false "old"round leather shield in Ethiopia now, you would recognise the difference. In the case of steel it would be easier for forgers.
Regards,
Martin
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Old 13th March 2013, 11:25 PM   #11
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i have seen some large pieces of wrought iron currency from africa,is it possible it is a similar thing?but a very prestigious item for sure.thanks for sharing
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Old 14th March 2013, 11:51 AM   #12
Tim Simmons
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Way back I did have a hide version but rather buckled through damp storage. Now I have this shield I have to say it is beautifully made. Simple elegant and above all very functional, light enough to hold for hours. I have had the chance to examine with a x10 lens. I do not believe these are cut from oil barrels. The steel could well be outsider trade sheet steel but could just as easily have been made from African forms of trade steel either ingot or sheet as has already been mentioned by " napoleon " Also I would not like to be the one who says with any assumption of authority exactly when these shields came into use. I am uploading the page mentioned earlier in the thread from " Shields- Africa, Southeast Asia and Oceania, Collection of the Barbier-Mueller Museum. pub-Prestel " for the benefit of those who do not have it. I hope this is okay. Also a few pics of the shield with the correct type of close contact club and possible spear. The long spear with the small leaf shape blade would not be good once close to your target.
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Old 14th March 2013, 04:03 PM   #13
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Very nice shield!
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Old 16th March 2013, 11:17 PM   #14
Luc LEFEBVRE
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In situ.Leather types.
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