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2019LG02-C007-0513.tif (102.55 MB)

Akwee Akelerio making a spear (akwara) from akaale wood

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posted on 2023-11-30, 18:56 authored by Samuel DerbyshireSamuel Derbyshire
Having collected wood from an akaale bush high up on Kapeltikoi the day before, Akwee begins the process of crafting a spear (akwara) from it. After burning the wood to dry the bark, he sets about bending and straightening it. When ready, he places the wood onto the floor and covers it with heavy rocks in order to slowly straighten it over night.

Funding

Endangered Material Knowledge Programme

History

Session

C007

Rights owner

Samuel Frederick Derbyshire

Cultural group

Turkana

Participants

Akwee Ekomolo Akelerio

Country

Kenya

Place

Morusipo, Turkana

Item/object

Spear (akwara)

Techniques of production

Burned, Bent

Materials alt

Akaale

Social group setting

Craftsperson at work alone

Location

Home

Temporality

The construction of spears has long been an integral component of daily life in Turkana, and a skill that most adult men possess. In the deeper past, spears would have been constructed on a far more regular basis, up until the 1960s-70s most men would carry two spears on their person when moving about the landscape. In more recent years, the construction of spears has become less common in line with their declining ubiquity in everyday mundane activities (and the proliferation of semi-automatic weapons). Nevertheless, they remain integral to asapan, and a variety of other important rituals and ceremonies. The metal spear components utilised on this occasion were purchased from Lodwar and probably initially came from Samburu communities in Maralal. Far from reflecting any recent transformation in the production of spears in Turkana, this articulates a long history of trade and exchange with external, metal producing communities. Throughout history, Turkana communities have never produced metal locally, relying instead on a variety of neighbouring populations for this commodity. Moreover, the purchase of spear heads and bases from Lodwar has long been a common activity, most probably dating back to Lodwar’s emergence as a regional administrative centre during the early colonial era. Spearhead covers are extremely uncommon in the present era, although many possess the ability to make them.

Date of creation

2020-05-29

Unique ID

2019LG02-C007-0513

Usage metrics

    Endangered Material Knowledge Programme

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