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Women Warriors of Africa - Concept Drawing by Gambargin Women Warriors of Africa - Concept Drawing by Gambargin

This Drawing is Outdated - Please see the Updated version in the Gallery Folder of Women Warriors of Historically Wrong Sketch Series: Medieval Revisited

See:Mansamusoo Djire Aoua of Mandeka Kurufaba (Mali) by Gambargin and Nigiste Nigist Zala of Mangisa Abisinia (Ethiopia) by Gambargin



My first attempt at drawing African Women Warriors as a part of my Historically Wrong Sketch. Their attires were based on the stylized dress and armor used by the Ethiopian Kingdoms such as the Axum, Abyssinia as well as Makuria and also the ones used by the Western African superpowers, the Mali Empire. I tried incorporating a few elements of the armor used by the Europeans and Arabs, given that these two people would have had trades contact with their northern neighbors. Still, this may not be the most accurate depictions, but I'm open to correction from those that knows better :).

In my opinion, popular media often neglects the legacy of various African Kingdoms before the colonization period. Furthermore, their women warriors were often depicted in clothing which would be more appropriate for swimsuit calendar than the actual fighting itself, of course, this does not include the ones actually used during battle-rituals (where some of the African tribes uses very little clothing). Hence, after a discussion with my colleague, hopefully this drawing will bring the light to the African legacy.

Contrary to the (ignorant) popular belief that Africa is mostly inhabited by tribes of nomads and hunter-gatherers, it is actually home to some of the most influential and powerful civilization that the world had seen.

Let us take a look at the eastern Africa; If you were to read the history of Ancient Egypt, you would come across the Nubians, who at one time, conquered the Egyptians and became their Pharaohs. These people came from southern Nile region which incorporates modern day Egypt and Sudan. Another one to mention would be the Abyssinian (Modern day Ethiopia), who ruled a powerful Myaphysite Christian kingdom such as the Axum and Malkuria. It is actually worth the mention because they managed to defeat the Egyptian forces under the Rashidun Calipate in the battle of Dongola in 642, that halted their expansion towards southern region of Africa for a brief period.

If we go further to west, you will find one of the richest, greatest and powerful Empire of Mali in the high middle-ages. This great African power rose to its greatest height under The Great Mansa I Musa, who establish a scientific, political and commercial center in its capital Timbuktu, who is said to have attracted merchants, scholars and other intellectuals as far as Middle East and Asia. On the other hand, one must also take note of the other great empire such as the Kanem-Bornu and the legendary Kingdom of Hausa.

Meanwhile, historically speaking, the concept of Women Warriors in the history of Africa is actually very common. The Ancient Kingdom of Kush had queens who fought in battle called the "Kendake". Several of the nomadic tribes also practiced combat-ritual which includes women as the participant. If you were to look at the various history the many African kingdoms and empires, you will find that not only their women at some point occupied positions of power, they were also responsible for launching warfare, subjugating rival states and improving the socio-economic condition of their realm. If you really want to tickle your curiosity about african warrior women, please search "Dahomey Amazons".

If the Greeks had attributed the "Amazon" to the Iranians (Scythians), perhaps we should also attributed similar title to the Women of Africa :D

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In this drawing, the first one on the right is Djire Kambine from the Njimi Empire, based on the Empire of Mali. The second one on the left, is Regent Zala Mangesa of Axum from the Kingdom of Maqurra, based on the Abyssinian Kingdoms of east Africa.

Djire Kambine is drawn with the stylized clothing worn by the nobility of Mali, with mail shirt underneath, whereas Zala Mangesa is depicted wearing a hauberk with Nubian headress and longbow. The mail or other types of metal armors would have been common in Africa, given the historical period, they would have obtain it from trades with the Greeks, Romans, Byzantine and Arabs.

Inspired by the music: Babaa Maal - Hunger (Sung in Fula Language by a Senegalese Artist - the song speaks about peace)

www.youtube.com/watch?v=zqOmbQ…


Many thanks to :iconmistasilentkiller: and :iconbrandonspilcher: for the inspiration :)
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:iconwraithsith:
wraithsith Featured By Owner Edited Jun 16, 2014
When I speak of Africa to others- I always discuss the basic geographical-political lines: Sahara, Sahel, Sudan( the region not the state), Sub-Sudan, all the rest, and then the Kalahari. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Niger-Co… . The link sums it up pretty decently.
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:icongambargin:
Gambargin Featured By Owner Jun 18, 2014
That's good to know, thank you for sharing :)
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:iconwraithsith:
wraithsith Featured By Owner Jul 27, 2014
welcome.
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:iconlemniskate:
Lemniskate Featured By Owner Apr 4, 2014
Did really everyone have chainmail in Africa-Europe-Asia?
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:icongambargin:
Gambargin Featured By Owner Apr 7, 2014
Yeap, and there are some archaeological evidence of theory proposed for it. For Africa, most of the case armors like chain-mail had to be imported from the European or the Arabs, which was tremendously expensive, and reserved only to the richest noble or warriors of those time. As for China and Japan, they did manufacture their own chainmail, a good example is the japanese chainmail called kusari. The method of productions may differ from each period and region, but generally speaking, chainmail could be obtained from the ever expanding trade from europe, africa and asia.

On the other hand, scale, padded and lamellar armors would be another alternative, if mail was too expensive or hard to obtain. At least, this is what i have read.
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:iconlemniskate:
Lemniskate Featured By Owner Apr 8, 2014
Is chainmail the best available armour, plate armour exluded? I.e., is it better than scales?
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:icongambargin:
Gambargin Featured By Owner Apr 16, 2014
One armor has advantages over the other, it all depends on the area which they were used. It was one of the most commonly available armor in Europe and Oriental world for centuries until the arrival of plate armor. Chainmail is good to protect against slash attack, but thrust attack, not so much. Scales on the other hand, provided a decent protection for both, can be made from either metal or leather, easier to construct, but much less flexible than chainmail and harder to maintain.

It was rather expensive as well. I've read a typical Norman gear, with helm, sword, and chainmail, back then, had the cost equivalent to a decent 2 - 3 bedroom house today.
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:icondeathlesslegends13:
DeathlessLegends13 Featured By Owner Nov 6, 2013  Student Writer
I would really like to see more armor from the Ethiopian kingdoms, it's pretty awesome!
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:iconrutterkin1:
rutterkin1 Featured By Owner Sep 22, 2013
Good job. If you continue with the African theme, I suggest Queen Nzinga of (what later became) Angola as a subject.
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:icongambargin:
Gambargin Featured By Owner Sep 23, 2013
Ah yes, I've read about her! i would certainly dedicate a drawing for the Queen of Ovimbundu people. :D
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:iconjoolita:
joolita Featured By Owner Sep 19, 2013
They have one of the armour designs I like most in the whole series.
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:icongambargin:
Gambargin Featured By Owner Sep 23, 2013
Thank you, that's very a nice thing to say, given that not many people know much about the African women :)
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:iconjoolita:
joolita Featured By Owner Sep 28, 2013
That is true, the continent is not well explored as far as pop culture is concerned, so the popular image of people living there and their history is rather limited and filled with stereotypes.
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:iconmessenger-of-chaos:
Messenger-Of-Chaos Featured By Owner Sep 11, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Good job! Very interesting look. ;)
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:icongambargin:
Gambargin Featured By Owner Sep 11, 2013
Thank you, the compliment is much appreciated :)
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:iconartlovr59:
artlovr59 Featured By Owner Sep 11, 2013   Photographer
Very good "incorrect" ladies! I'll look up some more African warrior ladies, but I must run! Of course, the great library in Timbuktu is just one relic of the great center of learning that Mali once was. You research is great!!
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:iconcrammagnum21:
crammagnum21 Featured By Owner Sep 10, 2013
Man, absolutely love it!!! Top marks for the costumes(coming from someone who doesnt really know anything about the subject of costumes) and that stern and proud expression of both the ladies.

As always great to read some backgroundmaterial about every concept you draw. In this case i was aware of some of the great civs in africa. I read this year an article(can't remember where) stating that based on calculations(inflation, riches etc etc) the richtest man ever of all times was the ruler of one of these west african empires, maybe the one ruling Timbuktu(can't be sure, can't remember!!).

I give a 10 of of 10
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:icongambargin:
Gambargin Featured By Owner Sep 11, 2013
Woah, that's very nice of you to write this for me :D

What you have read would probably refer to Mansa I Musa of the great Mali Empire. He was said to be amongst the richest, if not the richest, man in the entire history of the world. I remember reading that he carried so much gold during his pilgrimage to Mecca and distributed generously to the poor, the sudden influx of gold evaluated its value and caused a massive inflation of price in the Mediterranean.
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:iconcrammagnum21:
crammagnum21 Featured By Owner Sep 11, 2013
Thank you for the correction!! Yes, indeed it was him whom i read about
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:iconarwendeluhtiene:
ArwendeLuhtiene Featured By Owner Sep 10, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Yay for African female warriors! I love the one on the left, beautiful job!
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:icongambargin:
Gambargin Featured By Owner Sep 10, 2013
Yeah, not many people draw them, especially not the women warriors depicted in this attires.

Thank you for the compliment as always :D
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:iconarwendeluhtiene:
ArwendeLuhtiene Featured By Owner Sep 11, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
You're welcome :)! We need more realistic warrior-women like yours :D!
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:iconbrossuno:
BrossUno Featured By Owner Sep 10, 2013
Aw, these are so awesome. Is there any corner of the world you haven't done yet?
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:icongambargin:
Gambargin Featured By Owner Sep 10, 2013
Well, there will be another 4 drawings before i conclude the series. The south east Asian, north American Indian, Central Europe, and Carpathian :D
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:icongambargin:
Gambargin Featured By Owner Sep 10, 2013
Thank you brother Zak, i'm glad you like the drawing :D

That's certainly a nice information, i have always been wondering why that was the case. I think this was similiar to the blue-eyed and blonde arabs, which may have descended from the intermarriage with the franks during the crusaded, or norther Europeans that was brought along by Timurs.
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:iconmistasilentkiller:
MistaSilentKiller Featured By Owner Sep 11, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Another reason for the blonde and blue eyed people is that when the ottomans conquered the whole Balkans they brought slaves and harems back with them to middle east. :)
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:iconovello:
Ovello Featured By Owner Jun 14, 2014
A better explanation is the lingering effect of colonialism by the French and British, where those families who intermarried and got in good with the aristocracy were left both rich and 'exotic' to the people of Palestine, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria. In the same vein darker-skinned Arabs and bedouins were cast in a relatively negative light. None of this is as extreme as, say, modern Black American culture, which paints darker Black men and women as ignorant laborers while the lighter ones are more intelligent--but all the same it's there, and it's more a product of the 19th Century than the Kingdom of Jerusalem.
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:iconbrandonspilcher:
BrandonSPilcher Featured By Owner Sep 10, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
I think this is true for ancient Egyptians, but I'm not so sure about Northwest African Berbers.
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