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Complementary page on Book Review - African Throwing Knives

African Throwing Knives

Miss Summers kindly models for us with a hammer and a Southern form of African Throwing Knife.

Buffy finds an K'pinga useful too

        Hope this is clear -the weapons are mainly used in Northern and Central Africa.

        African throwing knife is a confusing term since most of these are not
anything we'd call a knife, and "throwing iron" is some times used.
        Problem is that many of them are never used as missiles or even
weapons, but have symbolic/ ritual/ magical functions.
        Using the african words is of little use since every tribe has a different
name for them. The terms Hunga munga, thrombash and K'pinga are possibly
the best known.
        Throwing forms usually have an uncovered grip section or just a cord
or lizard hide wrap. At least some of these knives have an aerodynamic
"D" shaped section.
        A typical northern form of knife is about 30" long and shaped
like an "f" of sometimes an "?". The "knife" is carried sloped over
the shoulder, sometimes in a sheath that holds three. These weapons
have been used by both cavalry and infantry, and seem to have been the
main reason leg armour was adopted for african war horses.
        I've seen it claimed that many of these knives are used as
general purpose tools for jobs such as clearing brush or butchering
game. You can see these things as being awkward for some jobs and
good for others and it is usually noted that many of these knives
obtained for collections show no signs of the wear or resharpening
you'd expect. One the other hand, man will often use the tool to hand
rather than the tool for the job (I remember a nice photo of a guy
making a pair of sandals with his spear edge).

        Southern forms of knives are shorter (c 18" or less)
and proportionally broader. Shape is more varied, resembling
"Y", "r", "K" or branching antler-like shapes.
        The elite warriors of certain tribes would carry four
of these hanging on the inside of their shields.
        When thrown vertically at the top of a shield they are said to
sommersalt over and drop down onto the foe's head.
        When thrown horizontally they can be bounced off the
ground to take out the foe's ankles beneath his shield.
        Being able to jump suddenly was a required skill of a warrior!

        I think Phil was refering himself to an African throwing knife called "'Mbum", a middleway between the axe and the knife. Otherwise to particular "Taliks" used by Tahuas to kill the mouses of the desert; or the throwing knives used by Ballegs and Vahims'tribes......

        There's a name for these in every dialet of the north and central
africa -not heard those ones though. Thrombash, hunga munga and k'pinga are some
of the better known terms. If the desert tribes are using what I'm thinking of
they'll be about 30" long -lot of knife for a mouse
                                        Phil (Lee Fugatt) writes:
        ....kill mouses?? Prego Grisonio but I would love to see some one pick off a mouse with a throwing knife!!! I miss grey squirrels about half the time and kinda good at throwing stuff. Ain't saying it can't be done but I'd sure to see it!! Lee

        Tahuas'tribes are nomads who live hunting preys like mice, locusts, lizards, scorpions, snakes and coleoptera, perhaps the only animals of the desert, if we exclude the more and more rare "fennec" (little-fox). Their life depend on their throwing-skill and during hunting period they cannot miss the target. When that happens, -- (and IMO it happens very seldom) -- they can only say: "#@$+�*%!! bye bye dinner..." @=^)
    Lee, they are "professional throwers" and don't waste their time playing with squirrels and bambi.... @=^D

    P.S. = Hey Phil, one of the throwing-weapons used by mouse-hunters of Central Africa is like this...
    "'MBUM" (Maybe you know it by a different term)

    /) . //___/|_____ ( ____III�I) \ | \| | /|\ | | |
    is bound by a short rope utilized to set it in rotatory motion.)

            How big is this thing and is it made of metal? It looks alot like a southern throwing iron, though I'd expect a northern form to be in use in desert regions. When you say the rope sets it in a rotary motion -do you mean a rope is wound around to spin it like a top, or just a cord wrap handle?

            Yeah, it is a sort of "ascia-falcetto" or double-scythe, but only one of the blades is sharpened. It is supplied with another short blade, a cutting tooth, near the bone handle. Length: approximately 16 cm. (blade) + 9 cm. (handle)
    The cord is very short and bound near the tip of the handle. About its utilization, IMO, the African Mbum can be considered a middleway between the medieval Kusari-Gama of Okinawa and the prehistoric Bola Perdida of Peru. A similar throwing-weapon, without cord, is utilized in Central Africa by Kotos. Hope this helps.

            Indeed it does -what part of africa did you say these mouse hunters were from again? This thing is smaller than a central african (southern) thrower and way smaller than the northern forms -plus you have the additional action of the cord to whirl it by -there seems to be a real shortage on decent information on african

                 	            /)   .         
                                (   ____III�I)
                                 \ |            
                               15-16 cm.  9 cm.

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    This page is part of the official ARCHIVE COPY of the pioneering but abandoned Thrower website on knife throwing. Copyright and details