Prestige weapon

Teke peoples
20th century

Object Place: Democratic Republic of the Congo


Overall: 32.4 x 30.5 cm (12 3/4 x 12 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Wood, iron, brass tacks

Not On View


Africa and Oceania, Contemporary Art


Warfare, hunting, fishing

Iron knives, swords, and axes are more than armaments; they are powerful symbols of prestige and authority. Many weapons, including this Teke prestige axe, 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. This axe is adorned with brass tacks of European manufacture.


1980s, acquired in Paris by anonymous donors; 2009, year-end anonymous gift to the MFA. (Accession date: January 20, 2010)

Credit Line

Anonymous gift