Outstanding Old Turkana Shield – Kenya
Hide, wood, braided leather; max cm. 107,5 high x max cm. 35,0 width (42.32″ x 13.78″). The wooden handle is fixed to the shield through a strong braided leather thread. Excellent conditions, beautiful work and shape.
The Turkana are one of more than forty cultural groups in Kenya. Turkana district is the largest district in Kenya, but also one of the poorest, with more than 70% of its population living below the poverty line. This is largely due to the harsh environment and the climate. Low rainfall, high temperatures and poor soils mean that agriculture is near impossible. Opportunistic cereal cultivation (mainly sorghum) does occur but is rarely enough to sustain communities; a situation made worse by famine and drought in recent years. For these reasons, the Turkana people follow a largely nomadic pastoralist lifestyle.
“The Turkana are the finest fighting men in East Africa”, so, without so many preambles, Mr. Crampton defined his subjects when he was appointed a politacal officer in Turkanaland. He is echoed by Elisabeth M. Thomas when she describes them as “having a reputation for an extreme rapacious bravery” and again as “exceptionnally fearless”.
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