Throwing Knife

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

Object Place: Democratic Republic of the Congo


Overall: 46.2 x 42 x 2 cm (18 3/16 x 16 9/16 x 13/16 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Metal, fiber

Not On View


Africa and Oceania, Contemporary Art


Swords, daggers, knives

The throwing knives of the Ngbaka have become icons of central African weaponry. The knife, which could be thrown overhand from a standing position or sidearm from either a standing or crouched position, is perfectly balanced around a central point of gravity. This balance allowed for incredible accuracy when throwing the weapon. In addition to their practical application as a weapon, beautiful blades were symbols of wealth that enhanced the prestige of the owner.


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