Accession Number



Artist Nationality
Kuba (Democratic Republic of Congo style)

Object Creation Date
20th century

Medium & Support
metal and wood

12 5/16 in x 3 5/16 in x 2 in (31.3 cm x 8.4 cm x 5 cm)

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

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
Roy Sieber, African Textiles and Decorative Arts, 1972
Jan Vansina, The Children of Woot, 1978

Physical Description
Knife with leaf-shaped blade and wooden handle. The blade is engraved with several lines running along the length of the blade, while the handle has various geometric patterns and lines carved in it. 

Primary Object Classification

Primary Object Type

Collection Area

If you are interested in using an image for a publication, please visit for more information and to fill out the online Image Rights and Reproductions Request Form. Keywords
carvings (visual works)
geometric patterns
metalwork (visual works)

& Author Notes

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