How to Make an African Zulu Shield

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African Zulu Shield
African Zulu Shield (Image: African shield image by Brett Bouwer from Fotolia.com)

The African Zulu shield originates from the KwaZulu region in South Africa. It is a typical shield of the great Shaka Zulu. Often handcrafted and made from cattle leather, the traditional shield also incorporates natural cow leather colors. The shield also contains two spears, one for hunting and one for battle. Although the traditional African Zulu shield can be an expensive purchase, it is possible to make a cheaper version at home.

Things You'll Need

  • Large piece of wool plate for the shield
  • Two long wood pieces for the spears
  • Tall piece of wood to hold up the shield
  • Fur of choice for the shield
  • Pencil
  • Saw
  • Sandpaper
  • Super glue
  • Paint for the spears
  • Decorations

Sketch with pencil a Zulu shield on the large wood plate. The shield should have an oval shape with sharp ends, rather than curvy. There is no standard size or length to a Zulu shield, so there are no limits to the size. A traditional large Zulu stands 1 meter tall.

Cut the Zulu shield with a saw. Follow the line carefully, since a crooked shield may not look good once it is completed. Smooth the sides using sandpaper.

Cut the fur or leather of choice so it covers the shield. Cut the piece large enough so it folds around the sides. The ends of the fur should not be visible, but rather hidden on the back of the shield.

Glue the fur to the shield using the super glue and let it dry completely.

Sketch the two spears on the two long pieces of wood. Use the saw to cut them accordingly. One should look like a hunting spear, while the other should have a long shaft with a round ball on top. Use the sandpaper to smooth the wood after sawing.

Paint the spears. While some prefer black to make the fur stand out, others choose colors that match the overall Zulu shield. Let the spears dry.

Use sandpaper to smooth the surface of the long shaft that will hold the shield up on the wall. Painting this piece is optional.

Use the super glue to connect the long wooden shaft to the Zulu shield. The wooden shaft should be visible at each end of the shield, centering on the sharp ends of the shield.

Glue the battle spears on the back of the shield. The hunting spear should lean right, going from the bottom left corner to the top right corner. The battling spear is opposite, going from the bottom right corner to the top left corner. When completed, the spears should create an X.

Decorate the shield with paints. Some African Zulu shields have cream colored lines painted on top of the fur and leather that covers the shield.

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