Forged in Fire: What is an Akrafena?

A contemporary ceremonial Akfrafena
The Akfrafena sword is a heavy close combat weapon

This week on Forged in Fire the finalists have to create an African sword know as the Akfrafena.

The swords were used both in warfare and as part of martial art, which specialises in fighting at close range using knives and improvised weapons.

Typically they made up of three parts and include an iron blade, a carved wooden or metal hilt and a leather sheath.

A contemporary ceremonial Akfrafena
A contemporary ceremonial Akfrafena

They are often marked with Ashanti symbols and sometimes in the case of ceremonial swords the hilts are wrapped in gold leaf.

In warfare the heavy blades were used to allow the use of shock tactics and they often have very large pommels with large knobs to give the swords balance.

The master swordsman to the king, taken in the 1890s.
The master swordsman to the king, taken in the 1890s. The Ashanti did not tend to carry the swords by their sides but sometimes they were strapped to the back when travelling

The Akrafena was primarily a one-handed sword but two hands were sometimes used to deliver heavy blows, so the combat technique is usually regarded as hand and a half.

The Ashanti or Asante nation and ethnic group are thought to have descended from Abyssinians who were pushed south due to the power of Egypts military force.

Ashantiland is in the southern part of Ghana and was the center of the gold rich Ashanti Empire for many years.

Forged in Fire airs on Tuesday at 9:00 PM on History Channel. , 1 hr 3 min 2017 TV-PG.

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