Its hilt overlaid with thick silver, then fire-gilt.
65 x 43 cm
Iron, reptile skin
Ngombe tribal, Congo
Early 20th century
From a German collection
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The tribes of West Central Africa used some peculiar types of throwing knives, locally called
Among the more complex and artful among these are those of the various peoples inhabiting the banks of the Ubangi river. This particular one is probably attributable to the Ngombe ("water people"), who occupy the triangular patch of land between the Congo and Ubangi Rivers.
Such knives were thrown horizontally or vertically and were used for hunting and warfare, but they could also be used as melee weapons. Especially well-made examples such as this one also served as status symbols.
This example is exceptionally large for one of these. Most reference examples do not exceed 40 cm, while this one measures 65 cm high. It is well-forged with precise edge bevels and decorated with incised lines. The grip is wrapped with lizard skin.
I have not found any comparables that were quite this large.
Here a number of close, but not quite, throwing knives from the same general region, probably from the neighboring Ngbaka people.
Leiden Ethnographic Museum accession number RV-667-44. Acquired in 1888. 36.5 x 36 cm.
Leiden Ethnographic Museum accession number RV-2668-2478. Acquired 1947. Dated to the 19th century. 35.5 x 35.5 cm.
Wereldmuseum Rotterdam accession number WM-63402. Acquired 1975. Dated to the 19th century. 40.2 x 35.5 cm
Pitt-Rivers Museum, Oxford, accession number 1908.65.3. Acquired in, you guessed it, 1908.
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A what? Yes exactly. An extremely rare piece, the only example I am aware of in published collections at…
With an inscription alluding to it having belonged to the son of Tipu Sultan.
Of steel construction with gold overlay. Of a type produced in Rajasthan in the early 1800s.
All the designs being true inlay, with almost no losses.
With wootz blade and the jade hilt set with small rubies.