Tshimpaba (Chief's Sword) (Primary Title)

Unknown (Artist)

19th-20th century
Woyo people, Kongo
Arms And Armor
Metalwork
Iron, lead
Woyo Region, Democratic Rep. of Congo and Cabinda, Angola
Overall: 16 1/4 × 4 1/2 in. (41.28 × 11.43 cm)
97.130
An example of chiefly regalia, this sword bears symbols of royal stature from its animal-headed grip to the end of its rounded blade. The leopard-headed handle, with mouth open and fangs bared, is a key symbol of ruling power. The cutout on the end of the blade, a four-pointed star surrounded by four bars, represents the dikenga, the Kongo sign for the life cycle on which this gallery’s layout is based. Dikenga symbols are also prominent on the Kongo mother-and-child statue on the nearby pedestal. The raised forms, or glyphs, along the blade’s edge refer to the chief’s genealogy and region.
not signed
Kathleen Boone Samuels Memorial Fund
"Kongo crucifix carries symbol of African art," Richmond Times-Dispatch (March 29, 1998), H1 (illus.).
Image released via Creative Commons CC-BY-NC

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