How do I Make a Zulu Shield?

Updated April 17, 2017

The Zulu shield is a symbol of the Zulu people who live in the South Africa region of KwaZulu-Natal. During the 19th and 20th centuries, the Zulu Kingdom played a large role in South African and British politics. The famously militaristic kingdom caused a lot of trouble for the British during the Anglo-Zulu War.

Traditional Zulu masks are prized artistic objects and can be quite expensive. However, it's possible to make models at home for less money.

Sketch the shape of the Zulu shield on to the plank of wood. Traditional Zulu shields are about 3 to 4 feet long, but you can make it whatever size you want. The top and bottom of shield (on the long side) should be pointed, while the sides curve in an eye shape, but turned 90 degrees.

Carefully cut the shape out of the shield with a saw. Sand down the edges of the shield until they are smooth. Place the shield on top of the piece of leather or fur. Cut the leather out to cover the front of the shield. It should be a few inches larger than the wood on all sides so that you can fold the leather over and on to the back.

Coat one side of the wood plank with super glue and affix the piece of leather to the shield. Smooth out any bumps and irregularities right away, but work fast because super glue dries quickly. Coat glue along the edges of the shield's back, fold the leather over and press the edges of the leather on to the back.

Decorate the shield with paint. Most traditional Zulu shields are painted with white geometric patterns. You may want to take a look at some examples online for ideas.


Many display Zulu shields with Zulu spears crossed behind the shield and hung on the wall. You can make the spears or buy them.

Things You'll Need

  • Large wood plank
  • Piece of leather or fur (larger than the wood plank)
  • Pencil
  • Saw
  • Sandpaper
  • Super glue
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About the Author

Cece Evans has worked as a professional writer and editor since 2008. She writes reviews and feature articles on contemporary art for a number of Texas-based and national publications such as the e-journal, ...might be good. Cece also works as a freelance editor and researcher. She holds a Master of Arts in art history from the University of Texas at Austin.