Mambila Shields

David Zeitlyn

You have clicked on part of the illustration to Meek p 552. Clicking on the shields themselves will download photographs that I took in Nigeria in 1993.

Mambila Shields - an introduction

Mambila shileds (kor) are (or were) woven from a reed or sedge and were used in warfare both between Mambila villages and with raiders from outside such as the Fulani/FulBe who raided the Mambila Plateau for slaves in the late C19th and (contentiously) the Chamba before them.

That they survive today is because they have been collected over the last century by travellers and missionaries etc (many of which are now in museums) AND (more importantly) because they are have a role in the Nggwun dance. This is a war dance which in some Cameroonian Mambila villages is closely connected to the installation of Chiefs, and is repeated on a regular basis at which time the Chief repeats his oath of office, and swears (among other things) not to abuse his poisition. Because of this some examples are still to be found in Mambila villages (as may be seen in the digitised photgraphs that accompany this text).

Known Shields in Museum collections

Gebauer Photos in Metropolitan Museum of Art

reel 55 June 1938 in Lus village.

55#8 Men pose for camera with a 'war drum' (jua tap), and sticks held as spears (interesting that real spears do not appear to be in evidence) and two 'Mambila' shields. Exactly as illustrated in Meek, Geary (Things of palace) but without any decorative zigzag patterning. Note later Lus photos show shields which differ slightly in design as well as in pattern.

354#21,22 Mambila shield.

Show photo of shield from Nigeria 1993

Show another photo of shield from Nigeria 1993

Go back to Meek p552