Mambele (knives)

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Variations of Mambele across the top row

A Mambele is a form of hybrid knife/axe in mid- to South Africa, but was originally a curved throwing dagger used by the Mangbetu. It consists of an iron blade with a curved back section and rearward spike. It can be used in close combat as a hatchet or dagger, or more typically, thrown. This weapon usually consists of 4 blades, 3 on top, and one on the side. The curved hook was used to keep the weapon in the victim, and if pulled out, caused further damage. It would have been about 22 inches in length. These African iron weapons are thrown with a rotatory motion, and inflict deep wounds with their projecting blades.

Also known as:

They vary constantly in form and their use extends across Africa from the Upper Nile on the east through Central Africa by Lake Chad to the Africans of the Gabon in West Africa. In parts of Central Africa, these weapons assume the form of a bird's head.

These knives reflect the culture of Africa before western colonization; both through their design and use. They can be symmetrical, bulbous, or even multi-pronged. Many are made of rarer and softer materials. These were harder to forge and were a status symbol to their owners.

In popular culture[edit]

  • In "Anne", the third season premiere of the American television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Buffy uses the Hunga Munga as both a battleaxe and a throwing knife in a demon dimension. A shot of her holding it is also used in the series' opening title sequence for that season.[1]
  • In the 2010 film Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, Seso the Ngbaka knife thrower uses a Hunga Munga in his attack against the spike-wielding Hassansin in the sacred temple of Alamut.
  • "Hunga Munga" is the September 6, 2016 episode of the History reality television competition series Forged in Fire, which aired as the sixth episode of the third season. In that episode, the hunga munga was the main weapon that the final round contestant bladesmiths competed to forge.[2]

Juan Cabrillo uses a hunga munga in Clive Cussler's new book (2018) "Shadow Tyrants". It is described as shaped like an ampersand.

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