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What is African blade the Zulu iklwa as featured on Forged in Fire: Cutting Deeper?

Painting of Zulu warriors in battle against European army using their short spears and rushign tactic to overwhelm the better armed soldiers
The iklwa proved very effective even against some modern European armies

This week on Forged in Fire: Cutting Deeper, the final two have to forge the African blade known as the Zulu iklwa.

First up on this episode the contestants need to create their signature weapons, whilst the new bladesmiths are tasked with forging some bayonets that will attach to a rifle. But the main event for the final two is to forge the legendary Zulu iklwa.

The Zulu iklwa or ixwa is a short spear with a large blade that is used in close combat. Zulu leader Shaka is said to have developed the weapon as one of his revolutionary ideas about fighting effectively.

Previously a lot of battles between rival nations in the region had almost been ceremonial, with spears thrown from a distance and some one-to-one combats taking place.

A black and white photo of a Zulu warrior with a iklwa
A black and white photo of a Zulu warrior with an iklwa

This form of combat was far more brutal and deadly, with battles going from almost nobody being killed to full on bloody melee.

The Iklwa can also be used for slashing but its most effective use is as an underhand stabbing weapon, quite a similar use to that used in some shield walls many centuries before in Europe.

The name is said to come from the sound the weapon makes as it is withdrawn from an enemy’s body.

Also on this week’s episode is a chance for redemption for four who have already been eliminated.

Forged in Fire: Cutting Deeper airs on Saturdays at 8:08 PM on History Channel.


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