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Kuba (Democratic Republic of Congo)

Cermonial knife

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Object Details

Culture

Kuba (Democratic Republic of Congo)

Medium

Iron and wood

Dimensions

14 1/2 inches (36.8 cm)

Credit Line

Gift of Dorothy Brill Robbins, Class of 1933

Object
Number

84.025.016

BRIEF DESCRIPTIONThis knife was likely used only for ceremonial purposes. Among the Kuba and other C(…)

BRIEF DESCRIPTIONThis knife was likely used only for ceremonial purposes. Among the Kuba and other Congolese peoples, knives mark an individual’s status and power.WHERE WAS IT MADE?This knife was made in the Democratic Republic of Congo.HOW WAS IT MADE?A Kuba blacksmith forged the iron blade and carved the handle from wood, using hand tools such as an adze and a knife.HOW WAS IT USED?Large knives often have dual roles in Africa: as finely decorated objects worthy of display, and as impressive weapons used in combat. The former owner of this knife enjoyed some status; not only did he own a knife to display, it is well decorated.WHY DOES IT LOOK LIKE THIS?Men of the highest rank in Kuba society owned knives that contained an abundance of engraved and applied metal designs. Look at the decoration on the blade of the knife. The geometric design is a typical Kuba decorative embellishment; interlocking bands frequently appear on everyday objects such as cups, bowls and mats.Often knives had scabbards as well. To see a Kuba knife with a scabbard in the Johnson Museum’s collection, search for object number 86.089.027 in the keyword search box.

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