Swazi Battle Axe

Time Period: 19th C. – Early 20th C.

Origin: Eswatini People (Southern Africa / Swaziland / )

Materials: wood, Iron blade, and wire

Provenance: USA, collector/dealer

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Historical Context

The Swazi Battle Axe is depicted on the 1968 Swaziland (eSwatini) Independence official stamp to show its culturalSwazi Battle Axe significance and representation.

The Swazi Battle Axe, (isizeze) was reserved primarily for royal officials. However, today we can see the swallow-tail axe by mostly royal warriors (lijaha) at ceremonial dances at the incwala ceremony or Umhlanga or Reed Dance ceremony, an annual Swazi and Zulu event. This Battle axe symbolizes status rather than a fighting weapon.

Actually, both Kingdom of Eswatini (Swaziland) and Zulu kings are often seen holding the “swallow-tail”  battle-axe at special ceremonies. As such, it’s fair to call these axes ceremonial or prestige tribal weapons

Reed Dance, King Mswati III Ingwenyama yemaSwati

Battle Axe Inheritance

According to eSwatini culture, when the owner dies, normally the wooden shaft would be broken at the grave. Then the son will use the blade to make a new axe. Source: http://vikingsword.com/vb/showthread.php?t=2989

Swazi Axe Description

This swallow-tail axe is hand-forged, with an angular iron axe blade with long integrally forged round-section stud mortised into the haft and firmly secured with twisted iron wire.

The blade is 12 ¼ ″ long and extends 5 ¼″ from the haft.

Curved 35 ½” hardwood haft.


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