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Full Product Review
Black Tree Design/Icon Miniatures logo (TM)
Black Tree Design Ltd.
Icon Miniatures
ZW1007 Married Zulus with knobkerries
by Black Tree Design/Icon
Guide Rating -

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The figures in this pack are true 28mm, well finished, with little-or-no flash and only the occasional mould-line. All eight have individual, well-animated poses, with the heavier-musculature associated with Foundry et al. There is fine detail, which should make painting a joy, and the integral bases provide adequate stability if you are slow to mount figures.

Icon's ZW1007 Married Zulus with knobkerries
ZW1007 Married Zulus with knobkerries

These figures carry iwisa or knobkerries, used to bash out the brains of their foe. Although rarely used in battle, the iwisa sometimes carried by senior members of an ibutho, and so these figures would make very good (and easily identifiable) induna figures for married amabutho. One of the figures also has chest straps and a satchel, which would suit a leader of warriors armed with muskets.

These figures are easily identified as married Zulus by the isicoco headring. Such headrings were formed by binding a ring of fibre into the hair, coating it with a charcoal/gum mix, and polishing the hardened ring with beeswax. It was common practice to shave all or part of the head to accentuate the headring, but this varied between individual members of an ibutho. Of the figures in this pack, one has a completely shaved head, two have partially shaved heads, two are un-shaven, and three are wearing umqhele headbands. Since these are married figures, the headband would probably be of otter skin, denoting members of a senior ibutho.

Icon's ZW1007 Married Zulus with knobkerries
ZW1007 Married Zulus with knobkerries

All eight figures are clad in the basic uniform of umutsha with a calf-skin flap over the buttocks, ibeshu, and twisted strips of civet, green monkey or genet fur hanging as tails in front of the genitals, isinene. More senior warriors would probably have two different furs twisted together to give multi-coloured isinene.

Seven of the eight figures have cow-tail fringes around the legs, whilst only four sport arm fringes - this also indicates an older ibutho.

Icon's ZW1007 Married Zulus with knobkerries
ZW1007 Married Zulus with knobkerries

Two of the figures have cow-tail necklaces, five are wearing charm necklaces, probably made from blood-red beads and 'claws' carved from bone. One is also wearing a long bravery necklace, isiqu, made from interlocking wooden beads. Two figures carry small pouches on straps which would probably be used for snuff.

Two of the figures are also wearing izingxotha, brass arm-bands, on their right arm which indicates warriors of high rank. Izingxotha were awarded by the king for outstanding service or bravery.

Icon's ZW1007 Married Zulus with knobkerries
ZW1007 Married Zulus with knobkerries

The Zulu packs come with a random selection of shields representing both the longer isihlangu, the traditional war shield approximately 4 feet long, and the shorter umbumbuluzo, introduced by Cetshwayo in 1950 during the civil war against Mbuyazi and measuring only 3.5 feet in length. Occasionally the shields include a single, short bladed throwing spear or isijula. It was fairly common for a warrior to take two or three such izijula into battle, to be thrown before closing with the enemy.

Icon's Assorted Zulu shields in ZW1007
Assorted Zulu shields in pack ZW1007

Although by the 1879 Anglo-Zulu war the distinction between different ibutho shields was less marked, the older regiments would proudly display their own design. Evidence suggests that as an ibutho advanced the king would replace their shields, awarding their bravery. The youngest, most 'vigorous' regiments were given blacks shields, then ranging through dark-brown, red-brown, to white for the most senior. Individual regiments would be recognised by a particular location (or lack) of spots - typically either at the top, across the middle, at the bottom, to one side, or as general 'speckles'. An attempt would be made to match the standard pattern throughout the ibutho, but since the numbers required were large, it is more likely that individual companies (amaviyo) within a regiment would be standardised.

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