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11th April 2003what does"washing of the spears" mean?
By andrew

I found your forum on the net. I just have a quick question that I'm sure you will have the answer to.

I am trying to find out what the title of Donald Morris's book on the Zulus Wars - "The Washing of the Spears" - actually means?

Was it a Zulu phrase or saying, and perhaps did they actually wash their spears literally after battle?

Many thanks,

Andrew Rowland

12th April 2003Keith Smith

Lacking any other res[ponse, here is mine:

The (Zulu) expression means to wash their spears in blood. This was achieved by killing an enemy in battle or by plunging their spear into an enemy killed or wounded by one of their comrades. There are many examples of British soldiers having multiple wounds during the AZ war, of whom the Prince Imperial of France was perhaps the most prominent. Donald R. Morris used the expression as the title of perhaps the most well-known book on the Zulu.

14th April 2003Chris John
The term 'washing of the spears' goes back to when if a young Zulu warrior wanted to marry, he had to 'wash his spear' in enemy blood as a sign that he was worthy of his title, as being married was a large statement to show your class.
19th April 2003Andrew Rowland
To Keith and Chris, very many thanks for the replies, you have answered my question perfectly (especially the idea of multiple wounds...). I am writing a novel which revolves around some aspects of Zulu lore relating to Islandwhana and Rorke's Drift. Also the concept that a Zulu warrior would be compelled to "wipe his axe" after killing an enemy in battle (i.e. have intercourse), I guess after the washing of his spear. Maybe when I get nearer to publication I can run some of these pieces of information by you forum regulars and make sure I have got it right!

Thanks again,