Throwing Knife

African, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Zande peoples
20th century
Artist Unidentified

Object Place: Democratic Republic of the Congo


Height x width: 31 1/8 x 9 13/16 in. (79 x 25 cm)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Wood and metal

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.

The Zande of central Africa have been known for their penchant for combat with neighboring peoples. In addition, they are particularly noted for their multi-bladed throwing knives. This is a simpler knife that may have been made before the popularization of the more effective multi-bladed knives.


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