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Sara artist  Search this
H x W x D: 46.4 x 12.1 x 0.6 cm (18 1/4 x 4 3/4 x 1/4 in.)
Weapon and Armament
18th-19th century
Label Text:
Implements such as hoes, as well as throwing knives and other weapons, serve a utilitarian function. In some cases these objects were also used as currency. Fabricated from copper, bronze, iron and brass, these objects constitute some of the most dramatic and varied of African currency forms.
Currency derived from the thowing knife came in many shapes and sizes, but its distinctive feature is the complexity in the orientation and size of its blades. These flattened shapes, often very thin, posed technical challenges to the blacksmith, whose work required considerable skill and craftmanship. In addition, many of the throwing knives were elaborately decorated, sometimes on the blades and other times only on the handles. Throwing knives are reported to have been used for bridewealth. Bridewealth is the exchange of currency or valuable goods and services to acknowledge all that the bride brings to her husband and his family, including the hope of descendants. Other evidence suggests, however, that they were emblems of office or status carried in dances or at other ceremonial occasions, and were not currency at all.
Iron throwing knife fire welded together in three pieces.Two upper arms are opened at an approximate 45 degree angle and are decorated with a row of punched divets. Upper arms and foot at opposite end terminate in rounded knobs. Oxide patina with slight corrosion visible on some of the thinner edges.
Tom Joyce, Santa Fe, 1986 to 2002
Trade  Search this
Currency  Search this
Credit Line:
Gift of Tom Joyce and museum purchase with funds donated by Carl Jennings
Object number:
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National Museum of African Art Collection
Data Source:
National Museum of African Art