Accession Number



Object Creation Date
20th century

Medium & Support
metal, copper, and wood

29 1/8 in x 8 1/4 in x 2 15/16 in (73.98 cm x 20.96 cm x 7.46 cm)

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

Label copy

Subject matter
The straight blade surmounted by a large sickle-shaped curve suggests this knife's form may be derived from the ngulu, a similarly shaped blade used in the past for executions. Many peoples from Central Africa have created knives of this shape, as other objects have been labeled as created by Ngala, Ntomba, Nkundu, Ngombe, and Ekonda peoples. Scholars have noted that while in the past this knife was used to decapitate victims for ceremonial sacrifices, since the 20th century animals have been used in these events instead. As with other elaborate knifes, this type of knife may also be used as a symbol of rank or status.

References Cited:
Berardi, Marianne. 2004. Standing on ceremony: traditional African arms from the Donna L. and Robert H. Jackson Collection. Cleveland: The Western Reserve Historical Society.
Hurst, Norman. 1997. Ngola: The Weapon as Authority, Identity, and Ritual Object in Sub-Saharan Africa. Cambridge, MA: Hurst Gallery. 

Physical Description
A knife with a wooden, wire-wrapped handle with a conical pommel. The blade near the handle is straight with two small points along one side and sickle-shaped at the top. 

Primary Object Classification
Arms and Armor

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
ceremonial weapons
symbols of office or status

2 Related Resources

Death and Dying
(Part of 8 Learning Collections)

& Author Notes

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