A Mende hunting spear


Mende people, Sierra-Leone/Liberia – 19th century

Materials: Wood, Skin, Iron, Rattan

Status: Available



A Mende hunting spear, 19th century
The Mende people are the people primarily living in Sierra-Leone since approximately the 3th century and descended from Sudan. They are known for their elementary agricultural and hunting life and live in small villages near each other. Many Mende people were enslaved in the 19th century and were part of the large slave trade by the Europeans.

The hunters use a small type of throwing spear with double edges, sometimes with a medial ridge running down to the tip. The shaft is made of wood and often decorated with skin or fibre. The base of the spear has a spatula shaped end and serves for balance. The ensemble is fitted with tight bound rattan or fabric to hold every piece together.
A Mende hunting spear, 19th century

This example:
A good old example with a nicely patinated tip and butt. The iron tip is double edged and has a squared medial ridge with incised decorations. The shaft has a wooden core and was furnished with skin. The tip and skin pieces are held with a fine woven rattan knot. The long stretched iron spear butt has chiseled decoration near the end and is flat shaped.

Condition: Very good, a nice untouched patina and complete piece with only a few bits missing on the rotan braids.


Speartip: 20cm
Shaft: 47cm
Butt: 32cm
Total length: 99cm

– Ex Private collection UK
– Ex Dutch private collection

Comparable examples:
– British Museum acc.nr.Af.9590
– Sierra Leone National Museum acc.nr. SLNM.1966.24.02
A Mende hunting spear, 19th century A Mende hunting spear, 19th century A Mende hunting spear, 19th centuryA Mende hunting spear, 19th century

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