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Old 30th December 2006, 02:41 PM   #1
stekemest
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Default African spears. Tourist stuff or genuine weapons?

Hi,

I got these weapons a few years ago. Are they genuine weapons from Africa or just some modern tourist stuff?

Any help appreciated. Many thanks in advance.

- Peter
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Old 30th December 2006, 03:50 PM   #2
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Hi,
the 2 long points are Masai from Kenya-Tanzania.
Regards,
Danny
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Old 30th December 2006, 03:52 PM   #3
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Yes, also the shorter is masai but all are tourist stuff

regards
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Old 30th December 2006, 03:53 PM   #4
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Thank you.
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Old 3rd January 2007, 05:50 PM   #5
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THEY ARE ALL MASAI ITEMS, THE HIDE COVER WITH BEADS GOES ON THE SMALL SPEAR POINT. THE LARGER SPEAR POINT IS THE BLADE OF A MASAI LION SPEAR AND THE SPIKE IS THE OTHER END OF THE SAME SPEAR(THE BUTT SPIKE). THERE WOULD HAVE BEEN A SHORT PIECE OF WOOD CONECTING THE TWO PARTS. THE SPEARS ARE STILL CARRIED AND USED BY THE MASAI AND ARE ALSO SOLD TO TOURISTS. THE MAIN DIFFERENCE IN THE SPEARS IS IF THE MASAI BUYS IT FROM THE SHOP AND CARRIES IT THEN ITS THE REAL THING IF ON THE OTHER HAND A TOURIST BUYS IT FROM THE SAME SHOP IT IS A TOURIST SOUVINEER.
PICTURE OF MASAI WITH OLD FORMS OF LION SPEARS NOTE HOW LONG THE BLADES ARE.
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Old 3rd January 2007, 06:38 PM   #6
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I would agree generally about whether an African buys the spear or a tourist does, except that I think there is quite a discernable difference from the tourist models and modern real ones. Just look at the surface finish the lack of file marks, the quality of forging. This is seriously sharp.
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Old 3rd January 2007, 06:44 PM   #7
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Tim, seems to me that this one isn't so modern (maybe 50-60 years old or more). If i remember correctly Spring say somethig on the signs on the square part, like that are signs to identify a spicific tribe. It's a nice spear!
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Old 3rd January 2007, 09:20 PM   #8
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Old 4th January 2007, 11:32 AM   #9
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I think my one was a tourist stuff. But I'm interested to your opinion about this other two ( I'll send the pics). One was in an italian official (during 1936 Ethiopian campaign) collection and was catalogued as White Nile area assegai. The other I suppose was used only for ceremonial dances; in its hollow butt must be some iron little balls, that shakin' the spear, make noise.
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Old 4th January 2007, 11:34 AM   #10
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Here are the other pics.
Paolo
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Old 4th January 2007, 05:03 PM   #11
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These look like real ones to me. I like the White Nile/Ingassana one. The dance spear is very interesting although dare I say a little crude rather than simple. The other one, I can only think it must be the northern extreme of it range of use. Perhaps that is why it does not match the quality of the true Massai type. Especially if you think it was collected in the early 1930s.
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Old 4th January 2007, 05:23 PM   #12
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Tim,
Let me explain better. Only the last two spears were collected in the early 1930s; I bought the Massai type in the early 1970s, (when I was more inexperienced than now) in an ethnic store of my city, and so I presume it probably is a tourist stuff.
Regards and thank you for the inputs
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Old 4th January 2007, 05:49 PM   #13
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Well that seems more like it. It is not terrible, I have seen far worse tourist spears.
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Old 4th January 2007, 07:08 PM   #14
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Does anyone know how to ID 'lion spears' that originate from the Masai and those from the Samburu tribe in Kenya ? Or is this a situation where blacksmiths made them to the exact same 'pattern'.
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Old 5th January 2007, 04:09 PM   #15
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This is interesting. http://www.maasai-association.org/lion.html. If I have read this correctly, the inference is that the spear is thrown, solo or group hunting. Whether this was the same in the past I do not know. The "lion spears" I have all seem far to heavy to throw more than say 10 feet with any accuracy and control. The leaf shaped blade hunting javelin also common to most of East Africa as the "lion spear" type, would be better in my mind? I wonder if "lion spear" is a European view or misinterpretation? Could the lion be a reference to the warrior? It seems such a well traveled and evocative term that is unusually hard to find good information on and verification of lion killing use.
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Old 5th January 2007, 05:28 PM   #16
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Hi Tim,
here are many references about the initiation rites of the Masai...in relation to Lions....This is an exert from an on-line obituary......about a very extraordinary individual...

Jean-Pierre Hallet died on January 1, 2004, at the age of 76. He was internationally renowned as an africanist, ethnologist, sociologist, humanitarian, agronomist, naturalist, author, lecturer, explorer, photographer, cinematographer, artist, African art authority and collector, and death-defying adventurer. He was best known and revered, however, as the world authority on the culture, languages, and history of African pygmies in general and the Ituri Forest Efé clan of the Bambuti pygmies in particular......

.....In the years from 1950 to 1957 beginning when he was 23, Jean-Pierre was initiated into a number of African tribal secret societies, making him a blood-brother of the Lega (Bwama Secret Society), the Masai, the Tutsi (Watutsi), and the Nande. The Masai initiation is one that few non-Masai would dream of attempting: to kill a charging lion with a spear while enclosed within a circle of Masai warriors. This, he somehow accomplished with a combination of bravado, strength, determination and discipline, all characteristics that typified his entire life.......


The references I have read state that the 'lion' spear is NOT thrown.....as the charging lion approaches the warrior.....the 'but' spike is placed in the ground and held, at an angle, pointing at the lion. Once the lion pounces or jumps it is 'skewed' on the end of the spear......the anchored spike ensures that the full force of the Lions momentum is ...in effect used against itself.
The design of the blade, ie long and sword like ensures maximum damage to vital organs, blood vessels and nerves and therefor a very quick death.....USUALLY. A misplaced strike would leave the animal severly wounded, but not 'instantly' dead and this could be ......and has been ....fatal to the spear wielder.
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Old 5th January 2007, 05:42 PM   #17
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Thanks David very interesting, rather him than me, I prefer blue jeans over brown trousers Another problem to add to the mix. It is often said and in good sources that the "lion spear" type did not appear in use untill the very late 19th century. The old form being just as big a spear but a shorter broad leaf blade. Is this also a "lion spear"? One might be able to use it in the same way.
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Old 5th January 2007, 05:57 PM   #18
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FROM WHAT LITTLE I KNOW ABOUT THE MASAI IN THE PAST THE CUSTOM WAS FOR A YOUNG WARRIOR TO KILL A LION WITH A LION SPEAR. I HAVE SEEN A FILM OF THIS ACTUALLY BEING DONE WEATHER IT WAS THE REAL WAY IT WAS DONE OR JUST DONE FOR THE FILM I DON'T KNOW. THE WAY IT WENT WAS A GROUP OF WARRIORS SURROUNDED A LION THE CHOSEN WARRIOR WOULD APPROCH THE LION WITH HIS SHIELD AND SPEAR AND TAUNT IT INTO CHARGEING. HE WOULD PLANT THE SPEAR BUTT AND LET THE LION RUN ON TO IT AND HE WOULD BE KNOCKED OVER BUT PROTECTED BY HIS SHIELD. AS SOON AS THE LION KNOCKED HIM OVER THE OTHERS WOULD CHARGE IN AND DISTRACT AND SPEAR THE LION. THE OTHERS USED THE OTHER TYPE OF SPEAR WHICH COULD ALSO BE THROWN THE LION WOULD BE KILLED AND THE WARRIOR WOULD HAVE PROVED HIS BRAVERY BY TAKEING THE CHARGE AND WOULD MAKE HIS WARRIOR HAT OUT OF THE FUR OF THE LION. I COULD BE WRONG ON SOME OF THIS BUT I THINK THE LION SPEAR WAS ONLY USED FOR LIONS OR CEREMONY NOT FOR HUNTING OR FIGHTING ON CATTLE RAIDS SO IT WAS MORE OF A SYMBOL OF BRAVERY THAN WEAPON. THE WARRIOR ON THE RIGHT IN THE MASAI PICTURE ABOVE HAS A LION SKIN HEADRESS.

MANY OF THE SPEARS TODAY WERE MADE BY FACTORYS AND BROUGHT IN AND ARE NOT AS CRUDE AS THE OLDER LOCALY MADE ONES. SOME MAY HAVE BEEN HAMMERED OUT BY THE LOCALS TO BE SOLD AS SOUVINEERS AND MAY NOT HAVE HAD THE TEMPER TO BE A VERY GOOD WEAPON. I ALSO SUSPECT THAT SOME OF THE GOOD OLD NATIVE MADE ONES HAD POOR TEMPER AND WERE PRONE TO BEND ESPECIALLY THE VERY LONG POINTS ON LION SPEARS. THE QUESTION IS IF A MECHANIC BUYS A WRENCH IT IS A TOOL IF A TOURIST BUYS A WRENCH IT IS A SOUVINEER.
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Old 5th January 2007, 06:04 PM   #19
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I guess it depends if it is a "Snap-on" or a cheap one from India or China. I am done with fiddling with cars, when mine cause problems over £500 they go to the scrap yard and I get another one road worthy for roughly the same price.

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Old 5th January 2007, 06:46 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim Simmons
It is often said and in good sources that the "lion spear" type did not appear in use untill the very late 19th century. The old form being just as big a spear but a shorter broad leaf blade. Is this also a "lion spear"? One might be able to use it in the same way.



Tim, on that point I'm not certain....but I suspect that it was vitally important that the Lion be incapacitated as quickly as possible.
My assumption is:
The broad leaf head would cause massive damage...but as it travelled deeper into the animal the wound would tend to 'close' around the shaft of the spear. The lion spear, as we know it , having much longer cutting edges would keep the wound more open ...facillitating faster blood loss. Also with the movement of the Lion the sharpened edges would continue to cut and open the wound along the entire length of the 'embedded' spear. This would not happen so well with the leaf shaped head.

A charging Lion is something to behold,..... no I have not seen this 'in the flesh' But have seen alot of film footage. The Lion sprints and as it reaches its human target leaps and trys to take the victims head in its jaws, as an effective way of 'bringing them down' and yes...their jaws are powerful enough to crush a human skull In fact, recently in Tanzania a 'Man-eater' was finally killed after it managed to kill 49 know victims......all of those attacked whilst walking/standing had massive head/shoulder trauma cause by the initial attack. Which suggests that the Masai warrior must wait to the last second...to strike the lions underside as it jumps/leaps. Timing and nerves of steel must also be thrown into the equation.

Perhaps the lion spear evolved with this one purpose in mind, improved to quicken the death of a lion .....afterall ...a Lion still 'high' on adrenaline, fatally wounded ...but still alive ...could still 'take you with it'.

I think I am right in saying that only certain groups within the warrior community can carry these, a symbol of bravery. However it also seems that your status is also governed by the size of spear.....the larger the better.

BUT surely the shorter the spear ...the braver you are.....afterall you'd be a lot closer to the lion
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Old 5th January 2007, 08:24 PM   #21
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......'and don't mess with the Masai' ...

........'especially if he's fighting a lion! '....
14 January 1961
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Old 7th January 2007, 09:02 PM   #22
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Where can I find video of Maasai hunting lions. I saw a five second b&w clip on TV once. The lion in this particular clip appeared to have the upper hand. He knocked down several warriors. It was very chaotic. I'm sure there were several serious wounds.
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Old 7th January 2007, 11:30 PM   #23
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My family tradition holds that this was a lion spear. If it isn't, are there any sources of info on its possible region and background? Is it Maasai? Any info would be grand.
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Old 8th January 2007, 03:37 PM   #24
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Hi ShayanMirza,
very nice spear.....although I do not think it is Masai...or at least not a typical Masai spear. AFAIK All their spears have 'spiked' butts yours is flared. Overall the features seem to have a Toureg 'flavour'.....
The length and carved raised section put me in mind of a lance used from horseback......but these are just my observations ...I am sure Tim or Lew are better able to ID this.
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Old 8th January 2007, 06:29 PM   #25
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It's from Congo i think ngbandi
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Old 8th January 2007, 07:15 PM   #26
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Thank you both a lot for the info! Congo would make sense, since my grandfather acquired it in Belgium when he was stationed there after WWII. Any info on what the Ngbandi used it for? It does remind me of a lance, but AFAIK there wasn't a major tradition of lancing in that region's warfare. Did the Ngbandi have lion spears?
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