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Warfare in Africa

Hide shield

Height: 114.000 cm

AOA Ethno 1990.Af11.1

Hide shield

From: the western Sahara, Africa
Date: early 20th century AD

The Tuareg people of the Sahara used to use spears, swords, daggers and shields, but only high class men were allowed to use swords and shields. The shield is made from the skin of a gazelle-like animal called an oryx. It is strengthened by being rubbed with milk and the shell from ostrich eggs for a year.

The star shape on this shield may be a prayer in Tuareg writing, calling for the shield to defend its owner against the evil eye and the iron weapons of his enemies. The pieces of red cloth, and the large studs holding them, were also there to give the shield extra powers.