African Art / Works from the Swiss collection of Walter Schwab
Wednesday 13 October 2021, 05:00 PM • Milan
Iron blade with central veining in relief on the two sides along the vertical plane.Wood “button” handle with a beautiful dark glaze. With a refined interlocking production, many very small plates of metal that reproduce the classic designs of Kuba works have been inserted. Object denotes prestige Local name: Ikula Knife produced by the Kuba is a shape that also exists with copper and wooden blades. The holes on the blade are rare for this type of knife.It also had a monetary value. Emil Torday speaks of this in his volume after his expedition to the Congo between 1907 and 1909.
WESTERDIJK HEINRICH, Ijzerwerk van Centraal-Afrika, Lochem 1975, Gruppo XII, pag.96, figura 7 b (199);
ZIRNGIBL MANFRED A., Seltene Afrikanische Kurzwaffen, Grafenau 1983 pag. 61, fig. 59 (238);
TORDAY EMIL & JOICE THOMAS A., Notes Ethnographiques sur les peuples communément appelés Bakuba, ainsi que sur les peuplades apparentées. Les Bushongo, Annales du Musée du Congo Belge, Bruxelles 1910, pag.193, fig. 278 f (Ikula) (235);
The origin of this knife, named “ikula”, dates back to the ninety third king of the Kuba Shamba – Bolongongo, who ruled during the first two decades of the 17th century. A lover of peace, on his return from Benin, he decided to banish the terrible throwing knives that were typically used by the Kuba, and to replace them with a knife with a less aggressive appearance, which became a symbol of peace. Indeed, it is clear that this ceremonial knife appears similar to those that appear in Benin, and that the tip, as well as being anything but sharp, is completely missing in some works. Examples of this and other Kuba knifes identical in shape but with a wooden or copper blade are known, which were used during ceremonies where contact with steel had to be avoided, as this was strongly viewed negatively.”
Extract taken from: PICCARDI MARCO S. & SALVATICI LUCIANO "Lame d'Africa" Florence 2002, pag. 30 (682)