Throwing Knife

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


Object Place: Democratic Republic of the Congo

Dimensions

Overall: 33 x 13 x 3 cm (13 x 5 1/8 x 1 3/16 in.)

Accession Number

2009.2557

Medium or Technique

Wood, iron

Not On View

Collections

Africa and Oceania, Contemporary Art

Classifications

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.

Because use of the throwing knife was so widespread, there exists a great deal of stylistic diversity among throwing weapons. Knives with heavy wooden handles were not meant to be thrown as the wooden handle would break off from the blade upon impact.

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