Current Pitt Rivers Museum Information About the Shields Displayed in Bethnal Green Museum

Parrying Sticks and Shields, Africa

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Australian Heileman or shield

Parrying shields of double antelopes' horns, India

Long narrow shields from the Asiatic Isles

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Nguni shields

More on hide shields

1874 catalogue entry:
65. KAFFIR SHIELD of hide, with parrying stick at back. East Africa.
Compare this form with that of No. 56 from Australia. In each case the projection at the end serves to catch the darts of the assailant and turn them aside by a twist of the hand. A similar stick also projecting beyond the ends is used at the back of the leather shield of the negroes of Soudan, and Speke represents a similar projection at the ends of the long narrow shields of the Kidi men on a visit to King Kamrasi (page 567 of his work). A shield of similar form of crocodile's skin with a projecting stick from the White Nile is in the Christy Collection, and another of giraffe's skin, shaped like an inverted Norman arch, but with a similar stick from Kordofan is in the same collection. On the sides of the Kaffir shield there is sometimes a slight indentation, the object of which is doubtful, and is probably retained through fashion; it extends throughout many parts of Africa and is of different sizes. A similar notch is seen in the Nubian shield, No. 95.

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Pitt Rivers Museum record:
General Description: Nguni hide shield with rib stick handle.
Accession number: 1884.30.35
Continent: Africa Country: South Africa Group: Nguni
Dimensions: L = 925 mm, W = 380 mm
When collected: ?Prior to 1874
Other owners: Pitt Rivers sent this object to Bethnal Green Museum for display by ?early 1874.
Black book entry - Screen 2 22 Shield of hide with parrying stick, E Africa (65)
Added Black book entry - Kafir ?South Africa
Delivery Catalogue II entry - Shields from different localities. Hide shield with parrying stick, Kaffir 65
Accession Book IV entry - ?Cowhide shield of wide lenticular shape, with central rib of stick projecting as a parrying stick on top. Kafir [sic], S Africa [Drawing]
Card Catalogue entry - ALF 65. South Africa, Kaffir [crossed out and Nguni added later]. 65 = 22 black. ?Cowhide shield of wide lenticular shape with central rib of stick projecting as a parrying stick on the top. Original Pitt Rivers collection.
Old Pitt Rivers Museum label - Cow hide shield, Kaffir S Africa PR 65
Old General Pitt Rivers Label - 22
Old General Pitt Rivers Label - Kaffir shield of hide, with parrying stick at back, East Africa [sic]
Other information - Displayed in Bethnal Green and South Kensington Museums (V&A). Note that some sources say East Africa and some South Africa. However, Kaffir [sic - Nguni] would suggest that South Africa is more right than East Africa. The hair on the front of the shield is mainly black with the interlaced leather strips being mainly white. The top of the stick is wound round with a loose leather strip. About half way down the shield, to one side of the stick seems to be a leather strip handle set longitudinally. One end of the stick projects further from the shield than the other.
PR number: 65

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