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Old 8th July 2016, 05:49 PM   #1
kronckew
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Default Samburu/Maasai spear

picked up this spear on e-pray, arrived wed. listed as: Tribal Spear - Prop - Theatre- Wall Display.

however i didn't think so. gambled a few pounds on it and won it.

in 'Age grading and ethnicity in the style of Loikop (Samburu) spears' by Roy Larick (1986) it corresponds to the turkana style favoured by some senior warriors.

head is 23cm. x 6cm. it is VERY sharp & pointy with a central reenforcing ridge to the point

upper steel section, inc. head is 86cm.

wood centre section is 28cm.

lower steel section is 106cm, which includes a 2.5cm square end section with a rounded 'point'

balance point is 7.5cm. down the wood haft from the front section.

total length is 2.2 metres.


Samburu warrior with spear almost exactly like mine, followed by photos of my new one. it's leaning in a corner next to my maasai lion spear which is a tad ('bout a foot) shorter.nmote the little hair skirt just below the socket of the lower section, appears to be a 2.5cm. bit of cow tail skin, it's not sewn.
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Old 8th July 2016, 11:11 PM   #2
Timo Nieminen
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Looks authentic. These aren't very tourist-friendly - even disassembled they are luggage-challenging. Modern tourist ones are usually shorter in my experience (and often have fancy carved middle sections).

In the photo, the hollow sections of the blade look forge-blackened (tourist ones are sometimes painted black). That's usually a symptom of recent manufacture. If, instead, it's had the original forge-blackening polished off and is dark because it's patinated, then it's older. I can't tell which from the photo.

Given that the shank and most of the tail are round and of uniform diameter, the easy way to make one (for approximately the last hundred and a bit years) would be to start with round rod, and just forge the blade and socket. Which makes me wonder:

(a) whether the rod usually used has enough carbon for useful quench-hardening of the head, and if not, whether steel edges (or even entire steel blades) were added to the heads, and

(b) whether these long-shanked, long-tailed spears were made before imported iron/steel rod was available. It can be done, since similar long-shanked spears were made in antiquity. Does anybody have an example not made from rod to show off? I wonder whether the shank would be as uniform in diameter.
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Old 9th July 2016, 09:35 AM   #3
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the black area on the blade section looks deliberate & not a result of patination, it is very black compared to the dark brown patination of the rest of the exposed metal on the shaft. since getting it i have wiped it down with ballistol & the black has not rubbed off any colour. it is fairly smooth and there is no thickening of the blade near the edge as if it were an added harder section it tapers to the edge smoothly from the ridge. it doesn't appear to be paint, but maybe chemically enhanced. could be a result of heat treating the blade portion then grinding the white edge to final sharpness. the 'white' of the edge shows grind lines parallel to the edge, not perpendicular. the transition from the white edge to the black interior is crisp, uniform and distinct. the oxidation on the shaft and sockets is a lot darker and uniform than that on the thicker, heavier lion spear next to it. there are a few areas of the white edge that had some rust developing.

aside from there being no way this is gonna fit in any luggage i've ever had, i read elsewhere here on the forum that the main difference between 'tourist' and indigenous working spears is none, that exactly the same ones are made for both markets. the younger samburu (and the elderly) do use shorter versions according the the ref. in post 1.

luckily i only paid a fiver for shipping from within the UK, and the spear itself did not cost me much more than that. i find the occasional gem amidst the dross.

an excerpt from the ref. i listed earlier:
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Old 9th July 2016, 11:20 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kronckew
the black area on the blade section looks deliberate & not a result of patination, it is very black compared to the dark brown patination of the rest of the exposed metal on the shaft.


Oxidation during forging. It's a fairly durable coating. There's no reason to remove it since it provides rust protection. On old spears, it's often been removed through cleaning over the years.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kronckew
aside from there being no way this is gonna fit in any luggage i've ever had, i read elsewhere here on the forum that the main difference between 'tourist' and indigenous working spears is none, that exactly the same ones are made for both markets. the younger samburu (and the elderly) do use shorter versions according the the ref. in post 1.


If it's made just the same way and to the same standards as local working spears, I wouldn't call it a "tourist" spear - just a spear that was sold to a tourist.

There are tourist spears made that are quite different. I've seen very small (total length only about 4'/120cm, assembled), centre grip section carved as a human figure (not good ergonomics for a working spear), and more. Clearly ornaments rather than tools/weapons.

I've also seen some spears with very poor workmanship (mostly lion spears, but at least one long-shanked spear like this one). From a distance, they look the same - same size, same profile - but up close, it shows. Made by skilled workers, I think, but the time needed to finish them properly hasn't been put it. "This is good enough to sell to tourists, and I can make them twice as quickly this way." I don't know whether they're the local budget version, or whether they're made specifically for tourist sale, but I suspect the latter.
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Old 10th July 2016, 12:00 AM   #5
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somebody liked mine enough to put the little hairy skirt on it
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Old 11th July 2016, 10:40 PM   #6
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Here is my one of these, and my lion spear.

In the assembled photo, the clothesline they're leaning on is about 170cm/5'8" high.

And because I was talking about them, the middle section of an ornamental spear. Despite the large size of the wooden section, the head and tail were quite petite (they're probably in my magic box of spear parts, which I can't easily reach at the moment).
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