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2019LG02-C007-0553.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 finished carving the spear shaft and fitting the metal components to it, Akwee uncovers a piece of cow hide buried the night before and begins crafting a spearhead cover (akuroru). When he has cut and formed the cover, he binds it tightly to the spearhead in order for it to take a permanent shape. After some time, he removes it from the spearhead once again, continues cutting it down to shape and finally applies both the wire binding to the top and the goat hide tightening strings to the bottom.

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

Spearhead cover (akuroru)

Techniques of production

Beaten, Bound, Cut-cut

Materials

Skin-cow skin, Eleu a akinei, Skin-goat skin

Materials alt

Eleu a aite

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

2020-05-31

Unique ID

2019LG02-C007-0553

Usage metrics

    Endangered Material Knowledge Programme

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