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Execution Sword

Accession Number
1998/1.63

Title
Execution Sword

Artist(s)
Ngombe

Artist Nationality
Ngombe

Object Creation Date
20th century

Medium & Support
metal and wood

Dimensions
25 9/16 in x 5 11/16 in (65 cm x 14.5 cm)

Credit Line
Gift of Susan B. and John F. Ullrich

Subject matter
The original function of execution swords like this one was to decapitate victims in ceremonial sacrifices. Ordinary criminals who had been condemned to an execution were very rarely executed by these swords. It is said that in the past, the funerals of important people included human sacrifices. In the twentieth century, animals were used for this role.

Reference:
Blackman, Barbara. Blades of Beauty and Death: African Art Forged in Metal. San Diego, California: Mesa College Art Gallery, 1990.

Physical Description
The wood handle of this sword is wrapped in metal wire and embellished with a design of two stacked discs. The cutting edge of the sword runs along the length of one side. The cutting edge is made up of three half circles with the last and largest half circle forming a large, pointed hook. 

Primary Object Classification
Metalwork

Primary Object Type
sword

Collection Area
African

Rights
If you are interested in using an image for a publication, please visit http://umma.umich.edu/request-image for more information and to fill out the online Image Rights and Reproductions Request Form. Keywords
ceremonial weapons
metalwork (visual works)
sacrifices
weaponry

& Author Notes

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