Sickle-shaped knife

20th century, 1950–2000
Artist Unidentified

Object Place: Democratic Republic of the Congo


Overall: 72 x 20 x 7 cm (28 3/8 x 7 7/8 x 2 3/4 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Wood, metal (iron)

Not On View


Africa and Oceania, Contemporary Art


Arms and armor

This Ngala blade, based upon the design of Banza throwing knives, was especially designed for use during executions. Because the Ngala rely primarily on farming and fishing, they have no need for throwing knives. Thought to have special powers, the knife was symbolic of one’s inability to escape judgment and execution. Because of the special power associated with it, this type of knife was also used for ceremonial purpose and a display of royal power.


1970s, acquired in Paris by 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