Blade of a Sword

Cameroon Grassfields
20th century
Artist Unidentified

Object Place: Cameroon


Overall: 53.5 x 11 x 7 cm (21 1/16 x 4 5/16 x 2 3/4 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique


Not On View


Africa and Oceania, Contemporary Art


Swords, daggers, knives

Iron knives, swords, and other weapons are more than armaments; they are powerful symbols of prestige and authority. Many weapons are intricately adorned with abstract geometric patterns, figurative elements, western-made objects, and copper accents, all of which are intended to increase the status of the object’s owner. In addition to the functional and ceremonial aspects of African weaponry, iron blades were excellent trade items that could function as currency.

The flared sword blade from the Cameroon Grasslands is typical of kingly swords that would have been worn during receptions and festivals. Such blades were usually accompanied by an intricately decorated and brightly colored sheath.


Geneviève McMillan (b. 1922 - d. 2008), Cambridge, MA; 2008, to the Geneviève McMillan and Reba Stewart Foundation, Cambridge; 2009, gift of the Geneviève McMillan and Reba Stewart Foundation to the MFA. (Accession Date: June 17, 2009)

Credit Line

Gift of Geneviève McMillan in memory of Reba Stewart