In over two decades of collecting, we have only come across a handful of authentic Zulu shields. Unlike Maasai shields, which have the hair scraped off, Zulu shields leave the hair on and this causes them to age less gracefully than all-leather Maasai or woven shields so they are extremely rare. For over a decade we have had to tell many of our customers that while we can supply Zulu spears, knobkerries and axes, we are unable to provide a matching Zulu shield. For this reason, ever since we put out our first catalog in 2008, we have been looking for a good source of authentic reproduction Zulu shields…..this year we finally found one!
The shields below are made by an 85-year-old Zulu warrior and his two apprentices in South Africa. Colors of the shields, which are typically spotted, include black, white and tan. They are made to scale and incorporate all three key elements you look for in a good Zulu shield: the traditional eye-catching Nguni cowhide; the wooden main beam that reinforces the shield; and the impala hide decoration on the top section of the main beam. The knobkerrie and spear, while nicely crafted for this purpose, are distinguishable by someone with a trained eye from Colonial era pieces which typically took skilled Zulu weapons craftsman over a week to complete.
We stock these in two size, 40” and 36”, but larger sizes are available upon request. This measurement is from the top to the bottom of the shield, not the main beam, which is longer. These are sold in four-piece sets which include a shield, impala-topped main beam, knobkerrie and spear. The shield and three longer pieces ship separately.