Ring Axe

African, Mali, Dogon peoples
20th century
Artist Unidentified


Object Place: Mali

Dimensions

Overall: 61.7 x 16.2 x 3 cm (24 5/16 x 6 3/8 x 1 3/16 in.)

Accession Number

2009.2614

Medium or Technique

wood and metal

Not On View

Collections

Africa and Oceania, Contemporary Art

Classifications

Arms and armor

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.

Dogon cosmology, based upon the worship of ancestral figures, manifests itself in the axe. Used during ritual ceremonies, this ring-bladed axe is crowned with a small figurative carving of an ancestor.

Provenance

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