Original Pair of Somali Rhino Shields circa 1903

Item Description

Original Items: Only one pair available. What we know as a global hot spot today Somalia used to be called Somaliland. For centuries this was an unstable tribal area on the horn of Africa predominantly run by the laws and teachings of the faith of Islam.

Situated next to Ethiopia and not far from the Sudan the indigenous tribes were mostly of Dervish descent the same lot that Britain had so much trouble with in Khartoum during General Gordon's time in the 1880s.

In 1903 the European powers had had enough of this troublesome area and Britain mounted a full-blown campaign to rectify the situation for good. Much like Afghanistan, another British 19th century failure, today both these areas are still among the main areas of concern to the civilized world.

Here we have two genuine Rhino hide circular shields, often referred to as bucklers measuring approximately 14-inches across. Used as parrying weapons to obstruct an enemy's sword thrusts, these had little beneficial effect against bullets.

At that time, however, Somaliland was ruled by Mohammed Abdullah Hassan who the British Soldiers referred to as the "Mad Mullah", he erroneously told his followers that their Islamic faith made them impregnable to British bullets resulting in most terrible blood baths.

Each shield bears tooled geometric designs around a central boss and one has written in ink on the reverse "Somaliland 1906". Recently received from an old English collection, these shields hung for many years in London's "United Services Club" until being sold off by the Auctioneers at Wallis and Wallis of Lewes, Sussex, in the 1960s, according to the collector from which we obtained these wonderful pieces of failed British colonialism.

These are a fascinating pair of genuine Rhino hide shields with some provenance offered together with Internet research concerning the Britain Somaliland campaign of 1903-1906 that makes fascinating reading.

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