African art > Coins in bronze, black iron and other materials > Zande Knife

Zande Knife (N° 26980)

This type of throwing knives used for hunting were also used as currencies. Elegant and particularly decorative, these flat and sinuous sickle knives could be worn on the shoulder during ceremonies. The blade is embellished with regularly hammered streaks on the surface. The handle, bare, extends into a point.
In Africa, before the colonial period, payments were never made in coins. Transactions were made using cowrie shells, pearls, cattle, kola nuts, but also metals, including iron in particular. These primitive currencies were used during commercial and social exchanges, for dowries in particular, but could also constitute objects of display or throwing weapons. In Sierra Leone, goods were valued against iron bars called barriferri. In 1556 in Djenné Jean-Léon l'Africain observed that the populations used iron to pay for "things of little value". The king generally controlled the production or delivery of the kingdom's currency. The variety of these metal forms is wide, and they sometimes take on the appearance of particularly aesthetic non-figurative sculptures.  

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OriginCollection belge
Countryrdc ex zaire
Height cm75
Width33 cm
Weight1.38 Kg
Estimated datingcirca 1960
Socle includedYes

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