A Case of the Unknown weapon

You know I love weapons! And I particularly like weapons that are peculiar and different. Well, here is an unknown weapon sent in to me by a web visitor. Seems to be some kind of spear. I dunno! The web visitor is Jerry and this is what he has to say about finding this peculiar weapon:

Sometime over the past 40 years of antique collecting my dad came across this and we can't seem to figure out what it is. Any idea? About 6' tall when 3 pieces are connected. One end has basically a sword and the other is heavy blunt piece. Not machined and shows signs of age. The middle is wood and the edged detach. Please see pics. Thanks Jerry

OK! I can't identify this thing. But if you can I would love to hear about it. So, send me an email:

Ok, I got an email from a web visitor (Noah) who identifed this as a Samburu Hunting Spear. And it looks to him like it has been modified for combat. My thanks to Noah for this and if you have anything to add please email!




UPDATE: by a web visitor (Gene Arnold)

This e-mail is related to your Unknown weapon case.  I think the answer "it is a Samburu spear" is perhaps an oversimplification.

In February of 2002 I was in Kampala, Uganda and visited the traditional market there.  I purchased a pair of very similar spears.  Photos attached.  They are in the general range of the description on your page.  The vendor told me that they came from Eastern Uganda and that the tribe was either closely related to or influenced by the Masai.  I asked if they were hunting or fighting spears and he chuckled and said more or less that a spear is a spear and can be used for whatever you want to use it for.   He continued to say that they were mostly used as dueling spears with cow hide shields.  He said that they are normally riveted together but the ones he sells are in pieces for ease of transport. He said that these were not antiques but had been made recently by traditional smiths, expressly for sale to tourists. Not entirely convinced with his answer I did a little digging when I got home.

The spears are a fairly basic design and I have found photos of them associated with a number of tribal groups in Eastern Africa, including Masai and Samburu.  A Google search should turn up a number of examples including a Masai warrior drawn sometime in the early 1900s or late 1800s holding a similar weapon and a shield.  I cannot find a link today but at the time I found a short video depicting the use of similar spears as thrusting and slicing weapons between small groups of warriors using shields, in what appeared to be a mock battle or reenactment for a tourism board or something.  I found today a number of examples of the spears being thrown by Masai.  So my vendor guy was pretty accurate,

So it appears that today this style of weapon is a generic East African utility spear with some connection to Masai and related peoples.  I have not been able to trace a satisfactory answer, in the small amount of time I have devoted to the subject, on the origin and subsequent diffusion of the spear.  The spear in your photo may be Samburu but it is perhaps not accurate to categorize the weapon type as Samburu unless you have more information seeing as that tribal group may or may not have originated it.

I don't know how old your webpage is but I hope you find this interesting.  If you post the photos you can list me as the photographer. (I also have a larger picture of this spear right here)


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