Anglo-Zulu War - Dance Staff, 1879
Anglo-Zulu War - Dance Staff, 1879
Anglo-Zulu War - Dance Staff, 1879
Anglo-Zulu War - Dance Staff, 1879
Anglo-Zulu War - Dance Staff, 1879
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Anglo-Zulu War - Dance Staff, 1879

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Length: 158cm (62.2in)

 

Hardwood with spherical head the shaft applied with silver plaque inscribed 'Zulu Ceremonial Dance Staff Taken From The Kraal of Prince Dabulmanzi by Col. R. W. P. Curzon Howe Ulundi 1879'. 

The present staff is an important trophy of the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879, and might be contemplated in the same way as the Sekukini chief’s ivory tusk that the officers of the 94th (Scotch Brigade) Regiment of Foot sent to England for presentation to Queen Victoria at Windsor Castle. 

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General Richard William Penn Curzon-Howe, 3rd Earl Howe, G.C.V.O., C.B. (1822-1900) was Honorary Colonel of the 94th Foot from 6 February 1879 until 25 June 1879, and thus worthy recipient of a trophy of war from his regiment on active in Zululand. The brevity of his appointment is unusual and was due to the sudden death of General William Raikes Faber, C.B., Honorary Colonel of the 17th (Leicestershire) Regiment of Foot. The Howe family had strong ties with Leicestershire. The principal family seat was in the county, and Lord Howe was Colonel of the  Leicestershire Yeomanry. Thus it was logical that he might be advanced from the honorary colonelcy 94th to the 17th as soon as the opportunity arose, and at a time when line regiments were being reorganised .

The 94th Regiment was stationed at Aldershot in February 1879 when a sudden order was received on the 12th, directing it to Natal for active service in Zululand following the humiliating the defeat of the British forces at Isandlwana and the epic defence of Rorke’s Drift in January. The regiment embarked at war strength from Southampton aboard the S.S. China and arrived at Durban on 2 April. Forming part of Newdigate's Division, the 94th formed at advance post at Conference Hill, where they built two forts and a stone laager under the direction of officers from the Royal Engineers. At the battle of Ulundi, the 94th was the only regiment in Newdigate's Division that had six companies present; in the engagement, two of its men were killed and one officer and eighteen men were wounded. Following Ulundi, the Regiment retired to Entonjaneni and subsequently assisted in disarming the Zulus. 

Dance staffs were part of the accoutrements used in the ‘ingoma’, defined In Döhne’s Zulu-Kafir Dictionary (1857), as ‘a military exercise, a manoeuvre…’ in which ‘the praises of the chief which are sung’. D. Leslie in his Among Zulus (1875) added it ‘is the national song of the Zulus...It is a very old song, but became … famous in Chaka’s time, who made it his war song.’ It has also been said that a man's stick was his companion for life and was highly prized as an important part of his personal identity. It is generally acknowledged that the longer staffs were usually a mark of rank or office, or an indicator of special status.

Prince Dabulamanzi (1839-1886) was a hot-headed half-brother of the Zulu king Cetshwayo and commanded the 4,000-strong Undi corps, consisting of the uThulwana, inDlu-yengwe, inDlondlo, and uDloko regiments, at the Battle of Isandlwana, where they were held in reserve. The Undi left the battle at approximately 2pm and moved along the trail to Rorke’s Drift. Cetshwayo gave his regimental commanders strict orders not to cross the Buffalo River into Natal, so as to not be seen as the aggressors in the War. Dabulamanzi, unsatisfied with his reserve role at Isandlwana and to ensure that his men had a chance to ‘wash’ their spears, disobeyed orders and crossed into Natal to attack the 95 men of the 2/24th Foot holding their hastily fortified station at the Drift. Dabulamanzi's tactics were ineffective, allowing the small British force at Rorke's Drift to repel the Zulus with losses of 600 men. Dabulamanzi subsequently organized the Siege of Eshowe, alongside Mavumengwana kaNdlela Ntuli, forming a blockade at Fort Eshowe which isolated British troops, under the command of Charles Pearson for two months. When Lord Chelmsford arrived before Eshowe with a relief force, Dabulamanzi led the right wing of the Zulu army in the Battle of Gingindlovu. After the defeat of the Zulus at Ulundi, and the deposition of Cetshwayo, Dabulamanzi campaigned for the return of his brother to power. When Cetshwayo was restored in 1883, Dabulamanzi fought on his behalf to maintain the unity of the Zulu kingdom. Dabulamanzi means, the ‘the one who conquers the waters’.

Depiction of Dabulamanzi from the Illustrated London News

General Richard William Penn Curzon-Howe, 3rd Earl Howe, G.C.V.O., C.B. (1822-1900) was the second son of Richard Curzon-Howe, 1st Earl Howe, and first wife, Lady Harriet Georgiana Brudenell. Curzon-Howe entered the Army in 1838 and served in the Kaffir War of 1853 and in suppression of the Indian Mutiny at the Siege of Delhi, for which he was appointed a Companion of the Bath in 1858. In 1861 he became Aide-de-Camp to the C-in-C Field Marshal H.R.H. The Duke of Cambridge, K.G. Advanced to Major General in 1869, Curzon inherited his elder brother's titles in 1876. He succeeded him as Honorary Colonel of the Prince Albert's Own Leicestershire Yeomanry Cavalry the same year. Promoted Lieutenant-General in 1877, he was appointed Colonel of the 94th (Scotch Brigade) Regiment of Foot in 1879 (which in  1881 became the 2nd Battalion Connaught Rangers) and the 17th  Leicestershire Regiment of Foot in 1879. He became General in 1880 and Colonel of the 2nd Life Guards in 1890. In 1897, he was appointed a G.C.V.O. for his services as Lord Lieutenant of Leicestershire, a post he held between 1888 and 1900. Lord Howe married Isabella Maria Katherine Anson (born 1832), eldest daughter of The Hon. George Anson and wife The Hon. Isabella Elizabeth Annabella Weld-Forester.