Apr 18, 2012

Weapons & Warriors: The Makraka of the Zande Warrior

Although the Makrigga and Kpinga were the first weapons a Zande Warrior reached for in a fight, they had another weapon that was as intimidating to look at as the other two. They had their own nightmarish version of a short sword they called the Makraka.

The handle was made of wood and bound with animal hides. The hammered iron blade was shaped like a sickle and was swung in a similar motion. The tip of the blade was thicker and heavier than the central portion of the blade. Unlike other sickle related swords used in Arabian lands and southern Europe, the Makraka was only sharpened on the interior portion of the blade.

The blade was specially designed to remove limbs with ease, like a more extreme version of the Spartan Kopis. This gave the weapon a dual purpose in that it was wicked looking and deadly weapon in combat, and afterwards it was used to remove the heads of prisoners. We’ll get into that ritual next week when I talk about the Azande’s use of psychological warfare against their enemies.

The Makraka has several names given by different tribes and regions in central Africa. Every warrior carried the Makraka, but did not draw it unless it was necessary. Despite its lack of battle use, there was plenty of blood spilled by these sickle shaped blades because the Zande did not take prisoners. Any of their enemies who did not die in battle were executed on the same battlefield.

If you think that this weapon looks like it is mimicking the appearance of a certain male body part, like the Kpinga does, then you would be right. The Zande Warriors felt their weapons were the representation of their manhood and therefore the designs were often made to look like the one body part that men tend to also measure their manhood by.

I hope you enjoyed this edition of Weapons and Warriors, click here to view the entire catalog of weapons and cultures. Thank you, see you next week.

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