Accession Number



Artist Nationality
Kuba (Democratic Republic of Congo style)

Object Creation Date
circa 1900

Medium & Support
iron, wood, and copper

2 3/16 in x 14 15/16 in x 3 3/8 in (5.56 cm x 37.94 cm x 8.57 cm)

Credit Line
Gift of Asher and Vera Margolis

Label copy

Subject matter
With its characteristic leaf-like shape and dulled blade, the ceremonial knife, or Ikul, was introduced as a peaceful replacement to the warrior throwing knife. It is typically carried by men as a symbol of prestige, warriorhood and authority. As a ceremonial object, It would also have been part of a noble man's daily costume, worn on the right side under the belt. At times, representations of an ikul could also be found on an Ndop: a carved figurative sculpture created to commemorate a Kuba king. 

The geometric patterns on the handle of this knife are similar to patterns found on Kuba textile, basketry, sculpture, and female body scarifications. 

Daniel Biebuyck, The Arts of Zaire, 1985
Georges Meurant, African Textiles from the Kingdom of Kuba, 1986
Jan Vansina, The Children of Woot, 1978

Physical Description
A knife with a leaf shaped blade. Running vertically down the center of the blade is a gridded square pattern. The handle is also engraved with lines that wrap around the entire handle. 

Primary Object Classification

Primary Object Type

Collection Area

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carvings (visual works)
metalwork (visual works)

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