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Old 3rd January 2016, 01:16 PM   #1
RobertGuy
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Default Zulu Knobkerrie

The third of my recent African purchases:

Catalogue description:
Late 19th century Zulu Knobkerrie, polished bi-colour wooden ball top with lower long shaft handle flaring towards the base.

Stats:
Weight: 19.4oz (0.55kg)
Length overall: 32.5'' (82.5cm) Ball diameter: 2.7'' (68.6cm)
PoB: 8'' (20m) from base of ball.

Again although described as a Zulu piece it could well have been made by others. I would welcome opinions on this. A couple of points to mention. There is discolouration on the haft which leads me to believe that there was some sort of wrap around the lower part of it. I have tried to show this by enhancing the colour and contrast on one of the pictures. Also apparent is the bi colour nature of the wood. Is this caused by ma heart and sapwood combination similar to a longbow? The haft is curved, I don't know if this was intentional or the result of warping with age. I would just like to say that I used to think wooden clubs were a sort of second class weapons compared to bladed items. I now know this is not the case. The heft of this club tells you it would snap long bones, crush skulls and stave in ribs with ease!
As usual all comments and opinions welcomed.
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Old 7th January 2016, 03:48 PM   #2
Helleri
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Can you take a picture of the end grain at the bottom of it?
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Old 14th January 2016, 06:18 PM   #3
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Helleri
Sorry for late reply, I missed your post. I've taken a couple of pictures, one with flash and one without. Not sure if they will be much help. A member of another forum queried if the wood could be lignum vitae. This is a South American wood so I'm not sure if it could be. However I did do an experiment which showed that my wooden knobkerrie did not float . So I have some more questions:
1. Is it made of Lignum vitae?
2. Are there similar African hardwoods that do not float?
3. Did Zulus have access to South American wood supplies?
4. Would anybody try to fake a fairly common African item using an uncommon and expensive exotic wood from South America?
5. Its not an African knobkerrie but a rare Inca ceremonial club?
6. It's not made of wood but cleverly painted metal/thermoplastic?
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Old 14th January 2016, 08:42 PM   #4
kronckew
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amaZulu knobkerries (iwisa) are normally made from assegai wood (Curtisia dentata), another strong 'iron' wood that is denser than water. it is a member of the dogwood family which europeans used for spear hafts. in SA the boer favoured the wood for wagon wheel spokes. zulu also preferred it for iklwa hafts. they would use the area where the heart and sap woods would meet, like the english did in yew for their longbows. the white sapwood and red/brown heartwood is rather distinctive. the heartwood can turn very dark with age & yours looks perfect. they were frequently made by related but subservient tribes for tribute to the zulu. iwisa were also made from large rhino horns, but now they're not legal unless really antique and accompanied by certification & licenses from cites and a few other agencies... and cost a large bundle of dosh.
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Old 14th January 2016, 10:00 PM   #5
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The second picture of the end grain shows that the color of the supposed heartwood is through color as it should be for heartwood. So the surface wasn't burned or stained that color on the one side.

Faking heartwood doesn't go as far as to cover the end grain. Because in the case of walking stick, chairs and other footed things it would just wear off. and in larger pieces it's butted against something usually and the end grain is hidden any way. So you can confidently say that one side is heartwood and the other is sap wood. And that it isn't all sap wood with an aesthetic choice to make it look like half heartwood.
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Old 15th January 2016, 10:36 AM   #6
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Thank you both for the information. I am much clearer on what I have now.
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