African, Central Africa
Overall: 36 x 8 x 4 cm (14 3/16 x 3 1/8 x 1 9/16 in.)
Medium or Technique
wood, sheet metal/copper, iron
Not On View
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.
This knife, possibly from the Tetela region, has a copper-plated handle and a heavy hilt. The center of the blade is decorated with an abstract geometric pattern typical of other blades from the region.
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)
Gift of Geneviève McMillan in memory of Reba Stewart