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Old 7th November 2022, 08:04 PM   #1
Kmaddock
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Default Zulu Commanders stick of office

Hi All
I picked up the attached stick yesterday at a car boot sale.

Looking on line I think it is a Zulu prestige item, walking stick.

The person who did the carving managed to incorporate beautifully the dark and light coloured timber into the snakeheads.

Seemingly the snake represented ancestral spirits and these staffs were carried by men of high status


Timber is very dense and the stick sinks in water (yes I took it into the bath last night ;-))

The timber was v dry so I waxed it last night to bring out the colouring.

overall length 34 inches with no cracking,

So what do you think am i correct in my identification.

Regards
Ken
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Old 7th November 2022, 09:48 PM   #2
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I have 3, all 'assegai wood' with the distinctive pale sap wood and dark heartwood, it's Curtisia dentata. A hard very strong dense south african wood. one is like your snake one, but spiral fluted not snakes. They are, as you note, heavier than water. One has a slender shaft and a spherical head, the other has a smooth almost teardrop transition to the head like your other one. The head of a Zulu Impi would carry an iwisa (english: Knobkerrie) with a small head as his badge of office, he didn't need a larger combat head on his. I also have a few of the larger headed weapon ones.
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Old 8th November 2022, 01:43 PM   #3
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Thanks Kronckew,
I have looked back and seen some of your examples on previous threads, v v nice.
Would you have any opinion on the age of my stick?

Regards,
Ken
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Old 8th November 2022, 04:37 PM   #4
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I have a few sticks from Southern Africa. One is certainly Zulu, the others come other parts now countries like Zambia. The longest one , the dark ball head with the very simplified face is 57cm , 30.5 inches , which is short for a walking stick although it has had contact with the ground. Now what is a baton of office or a walking stick? How long is a swagger stick? A swagger stick made for colonial soldiers or native levies. The four shortest examples are surely batons 52cm long except the ivory and horn piece being 46cm long. I think the ivory hooked example may well be a symbol of some status as it is too short for a walking stick and also the wrong weight and form for a swagger stick. Held at the carved section feels right much like a Recade from West Africa. If I see them I get them {if I have the funds}
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Old 9th November 2022, 02:06 PM   #5
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Similar one in National army museum

https://collection.nam.ac.uk/detail.php?acc=1963-08-1-1


with following description




Walking stick owned by King Cetshwayo of Zululand, 1879 (c)
Cetshwayo was King of Zululand, a territory bordering Natal and the Transvaal. In 1878 he refused to disband his Zulu army or to cooperate with Sir Bartle Frere's plan for imperial federation in South Africa. In January 1879 a force commanded by Lieutenant-General Lord Chelmsford invaded Zululand. Cetshwayo's army resisted bravely, but the king became a fugitive after the Battle of Ulundi (4 July 1879). He was taken prisoner in August. Deprived of his kingdom he was sent into exile at Cape Town. This stick was taken from the king after his defeat and brought back to Britain by a Colonel Bell.

The stick is carved with two snakes coiled around the shank. It is a typical example of the staffs carried by men of high status; the snake was a common symbol representing the protection of the ancestral spirits.

NAM Accession Number
NAM. 1963-08-1-1

Copyright/Ownership
National Army Museum Copyright
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Old 11th November 2022, 04:27 AM   #6
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Exclamation Moved ...

Since we are not dealing with a weapon, this one really belongs in the Ethnographic Miscellania area.
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Old 11th November 2022, 04:31 AM   #7
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Ken, would you mind posting a full length picture of your staff? Nice example.
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Old 18th November 2022, 10:20 AM   #8
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Full length picture of My staff
Probably my favourite piece from this years collecting.........so far ;-)
Regards
Ken
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Old 18th November 2022, 11:07 AM   #9
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My small headed iwisa:
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Old 18th November 2022, 01:43 PM   #10
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And my single twisted snake one: (I found i do have one ��)
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Old 18th November 2022, 09:29 PM   #11
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V nice Kronckew,

You must have some collection to have omitted straight off to show this example.

Most of the ones I have found on my net searching do not have any scale embellishment on the snakes.

Regards

ken
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Old 19th November 2022, 12:50 PM   #12
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OK, this conversation has got me a bit wound up in a good way. What do I have here then? Bought as a walking stick at a Steampunk fair, and used by me as such.... but there s a clear resemblance to others posted here.
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Old 19th November 2022, 01:18 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David R View Post
OK, this conversation has got me a bit wound up in a good way. What do I have here then? Bought as a walking stick at a Steampunk fair, and used by me as such.... but there s a clear resemblance to others posted here.

Looks like So. African 'assagai wood' - One clue: Does it float or sink in a bathtub of water?
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Old 19th November 2022, 01:26 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kmaddock View Post
V nice Kronckew,

You must have some collection to have omitted straight off to show this example.

Most of the ones I have found on my net searching do not have any scale embellishment on the snakes.

Regards

ken
I have a fair number of wooden bashing thingies. Some are locked in my Storeroom. Out of sight, out of mind.


(This snakey one was propped up in a corner of my living room, about 6 ft. from my TV Chair. It was staring at me & I didn't notice.)
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Old 19th November 2022, 02:43 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kronckew View Post
Looks like So. African 'assagai wood' - One clue: Does it float or sink in a bathtub of water?
It sank most readily!
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Old 19th November 2022, 03:08 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David R View Post
It sank most readily!
You now appear to be an Impi Iduna


I do not think it would be a good idea to attack Rourke's Drift, tho.
I fear it's a bit more prickly than Isandlwanana was.
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Old 19th November 2022, 07:40 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kronckew View Post
You now appear to be an Impi Iduna
.
Not just a walking stick then?
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Old 19th November 2022, 07:56 PM   #18
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It's the possibilities that keep me going, not the guarantees.
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Old 19th November 2022, 09:28 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kronckew View Post
It's the possibilities that keep me going, not the guarantees.
I know that one. Sometimes it's a punt, and sometimes a certainty, but I paid a walking stick price so no worries.
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