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A Knobkierie, also spelled knobkerrie, knopkierie or knobkerry, is a form of club used mainly in Southern and Eastern Africa. Typically they have a large knob at one end and can be used for throwing at animals in hunting or for clubbing an enemy's head. The knobkierie is carved from a branch thick enough for the knob, with the rest being whittled down to create the shaft.
The name derives from the Afrikaans word knop, meaning knot or ball and the Nama (one of the Khoekhoe languages) word kierie, meaning cane or walking stick. The name has been extended to similar weapons used by the natives of Australia, the Pacific islands and other places.
Knobkieries were an indispensable weapon of war, particularly among southern Nguni tribes such as the Zulu (as the iwisa) and the Xhosa. Knobkieries was occasionally used during World War I. The weapon also being carried by British soldiers in Siegfried Sassoon's fictionalised autobiography.
Knobkieries are still widely carried, especially in rural areas, while in times of peace it serves as a walking-stick. The head, or knob, is often ornately carved with faces or shapes that have symbolic meaning. The knobkierie itself serves this function on the current South African Coat of Arms and on the Order of Mendi for Bravery. A knobkierie also appeared on the flag of Lesotho 1987-2006, the Coat of Arms of Lesotho since its independence in 1966 as well as the Coat of Arms of the Republic of Ciskei.
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