This important Isihlangu battle shield was acquired during the Anglo-Zulu War and hailed from the collection of a British regimental historian. We will be offering this piece of history in our forthcoming specialist African & Oceanic Art auction in Edinburgh on Wednesday 1 May.
From the particular style of this Isihlangu Battle Shield, we know its original bearer was part of a group named the umCijo – the sharp ones, who fought at the famous battles of Isandlwana and Roukes Drift.
In the Zulu army experienced warriors carried white shields, whilst the younger unmarried men carried black. This demarcation formed the basis of the Zulu's famous battle formation imitating the horns, chest and loins of a cow, which is thought to have originated in hunting as a means of encircling game. During combat, the youngest and swiftest warriors, carrying dark shields, made up the 'horns', attempting to surround the enemy and draw him into the 'chest', whereupon the elite white shields would destroy him. This strategy was borne out at the Battle of Isandlwana in 1879, where the Zulu forces overwhelmed the vastly better equipped British.
Dates for Your Diary
AUCTION | African & Oceanic Art and Antiquities | Wednesday 1 May | Edinburgh
LONDON VIEWING | Thursday 11 to Wednesday 17 April | Weekdays, 10am - 5pm | 22 Connaught Street, London
EDINBURGH VIEWING | Sunday 28 April 12noon to 4pm | Monday 29 to Tuesday 30 April | Morning of the sale