Original Victorian Sudanese Mahdi Wars African Dervish Rhinoceros Hide Shield - circa 1890
Original Item: Only One Available. The loss of General Gordon at Khartoum in 1885 was a great blow to British prestige and yet it took thirteen years for Great Britain to extract revenge at the Battle of Omdurman in 1898. The religious leader, the Mahdi, "the chosen or expected one" had died shortly after the Gordon episode and the Caliphate was now led by the infamous and exceptionally brutal Khalifa, "the successor".
These tribal natives of the Sudan were a primitive and violent people still living hundreds of years in the past. Their weapons were primitive most consisting of Jezail flintlocks, Kaskara broad swords of Crusader style, arm daggers that were strapped to the left forearm for hand to hand fighting and round very thick Rhinoceros shields.
The Battle of Omdurman in 1898 was a rout, the Long Lee Enfield magazine Rifles and the Maxim machine guns made short work of the over 30,000 strong Dervish Army. The victory was received as a great Colonial achievement back in England and the returning troops treated like heroes.
Here we have a particularly nice Dervish 20 1/2" circular Rhinoceros shield, which is about 9 inches deep at the center. The single rigid arched handle centrally placed on the reverse is substantial, made for combat. There are also some holes punched at regular intervals next to the rim, though we do not know what was attached here previously, if anything.
All in all a very impressive shield which the radical Dervishes believed would protect them from the British Martini Henry .577/.450 lead bullets in 1885 and the .303 bullets in 1898. Almost certainly a British soldier's bring-back trophy from the conflict.
Offered In very nice condition already 120-140 years old.
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