African, Central Africa
20th century
Artist Unidentified


Height x width: 17 15/16 x 6 1/2 in. (45.6 x 16.5 cm)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Metal, wood, iron

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.

This blade is typical of many Kuba club blades, although it is often difficult to discern the origin of weapons because they were so readily traded. However, this blade exhibits many of the same aesthetic features of other blades attributed to the Kuba such as the rosette that adorns the underside of the handle.


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