Mambele (knives)

Variations of Mambele across the top row.

A Mambele is a form of knife in mid- to South Africa, but was originally a curved throwing dagger used by the Mangbetu. It consists of an iron blade with a curved back section and rearward spike. It can be used in close combat as a hatchet or dagger, or more typically, thrown. This weapon usually consists of 4 blades, 3 on top, and one on the side. The curved hook was used to keep the weapon in the victim, and if pulled out, caused further damage. It would have been about 22 inches in length. These African iron weapons are thrown with a rotatory motion, and inflict deep wounds with their projecting blades.

Also known as:

They vary constantly in form and their use extends across Africa from the Upper Nile on the east through Central Africa by Lake Chad to the Africans of the Gabon in West Africa. In parts of Central Africa, these weapons assume the form of a bird's head.

These knives reflect the culture of Africa before western colonization; both through their design and use. They can be symmetrical, bulbous, or even multi-pronged. Many are made of rarer and softer materials. These were harder to forge and were a status symbol to their owners.


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