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Hand weapon  (za)
Date: Late 19th-early 20th century
Medium: Iron, leather
Dimensions: H x W x D: 64.1 x 13 x 1.9 cm (25 1/4 x 5 1/8 x 3/4 in.)
Credit Line: Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Herbert Baker
Geography: Central African Republic
Object Number: 67-15-24
Search Terms:
Male use
Object is not currently on exhibit

Implements such as hoes, as well as multi-bladed knives and other weapons, serve a utilitarian function. In some cases these objects were also used as currency. Other evidence suggests, however, that they were emblems of office or statuses carried in dances or at other ceremonial occasions, and were not currency at all. 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 multi-bladed 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 craftsmanship. In addition, many of the multi-bladed knives were elaborately decorated, sometimes on the blades and other times only on the handles.

F-form hand weapon with leather wrapped hand grip. Raised parallel ridges run along the length of the blade. Holes pierced at top of blade and through the side "arm" of the blade.

Herbert Baker, Pacific Palisades, California, -- to 1967

The Language of African Art, Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution Fine Arts & Portrait Gallery, Washington, D.C., May 24-September 7, 1970, no. 420

Museum of African Art. 1970. The Language of African Art, A Guest Exhibition of the Museum of African Art at the Smithsonian Institution Fine Arts & Portrait Gallery Building. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution, no. 420 (not illustrated).

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