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Knobkierrie, also spelled knobkerrie, knopkierie or knobkerry, are African clubs 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. This knobkierrie is carved from a branch thick enough for the knob, the rest being whittled down to create the shaft.
The name derives from the Afrikaans word knop, meaning knot or ball and the 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.
During the Great War the knobkierrie was occasionally used. The weapon is reported carried by British soldiers in Siegfried Sassoon's fictionalised autobiography of his service in France during World War One, Memoirs of an Infantry Officer.
Knobkierries are still widely carried, especially in rural areas. The weapon is employed at close quarters, or as a missile, and in time of peace may serve 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 in the crest of the 2000 new coat of Arms of South Africa and also features on the Order of Mendi for Bravery. A knobkierrie also appeared on the flag of Lesotho 1987-2006, and on the coat of arms of Lesotho since independence in 1966.
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