Sword and Sheath

Accession Number

Sword and Sheath


Object Creation Date
20th century

Medium & Support
iron, wood, and brass

18 1/8 in x 5 15/16 in (46 cm x 15 cm)

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

Label copy

Subject matter
This knife was possibly made by the Ekonda or the Nkundo, subgroups of the Mongo peoples who live in what is today the Democratic Republic of the Congo. These skillful metalsmiths made many kinds of tools, weapons, and ceremonial objects. While both peoples have created broad, leaf-shaped swords, the sheath and handle decorations of metal tacks suggest a Nkundu origin. The elaborate decoration of this sword suggest it was used as a prestige object rather than an actual weapon. 

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.
Dewey, William J. 2003. The World Moves, We follow: Celebrating African Art. Knoxville: Frank H. McClung Museum, The University of Tennessee.
Hurst, Norman. 1997. Ngola: The Weapon as Authority, Identity, and Ritual Object in Sub-Saharan Africa. Cambridge, MA: Hurst Gallery.

Physical Description
Sword with a handle composed of a narrow wood rod connected to a flat disc on one end and a conical shape at the other end. The handle and sheath are decorated with brass and iron tacks. The blade is wider near the handle and then narrows to a point. 

Primary Object Classification
Arms and Armor

Primary Object Type

Collection Area

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
symbols of office or status

& Author Notes

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