This is a great example of a Zulu Iklwa and probably pre-dates the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879. Many such trophies were collected by the British troops and brought back to the UK as souvenirs after the Anglo-Zulu War.
The 350mm blade has a raised medial ridge. The blade is 45mm at its widest and is in good condition with a great patina that adds to its character.
While the Zulu King was responsible for providing his warriors with shields, the individual Zulu warrior was responsible for his own weaponry. This iklwa was probably the property of an experienced warrior, one that would have fought as part of the centre (the boss of the horns) in the Zulu bulls-head attack formation.
The blade is secured firmly within the haft and woven ilala palm strengthens the bond. The woven binding is in good condition with some minor loss at the top and bottom. The palm binding remains tight with no loose ends. The blade is firm in the haft.
The 740mm haft has a wonderful patina and flares at the end. Interestingly, the flared end of the haft has two cut marks – intentionally done and evenly spaced. This is only the third time that I have seen this (both previous times the cuts were below the woven ilala palm binding, one iklwa with two cuts, the other with three). In all three examples the cuts are too small and wrongly placed to aid in gripping the iklwa. They are also very similar in style so are unlikely to be a means of identifying the spear as belonging to a particular individual. The marks are not regimental identifiers as the colour and pattern of the cow-hide shields identified each regiment. It is a reasonable assumption that these intentional cut marks are “tally” marks, displaying the number of kills a warrior made.
This fascinating Iklwa will make a superb addition to any Anglo-Zulu War collection.