TRIBAL & ASIAN ART AND ANTIQUITIES
PSW00021 • MONJIMBO ROYAL SCEPTER

Primary Source at Santa Monica Tribal Arts Show, November 2007

4847 W. Jefferson Blvd. Los Angeles, CA • 90016

Telephone 323.732.6131 Facsimile 323.732.6306

PSW00021
"MONJIMBO" ROYAL SCEPTER.
HAND-FORGED IRON & HARDWOOD HANDLE.
CONGO BASIN, ZAIRE. AFRICA.
CIRCA 19TH CENTURY / POSSIBLY EARLIER.

This chieftain's knife was not used in a martial way. It was strictly a symbol of authority. It was part of the royal regalia. The chief was the only one who could own and display this heirloom of prestige and power. It is a most elegant anthropomorphic and simultaneously zoomorphic form. It looks like a human being with its hands held high as if in a dance trance. It looks like the horns of a buffalo. It also has a sexual connotation of the female and male principles. There are incised designs on the blade that are also significant and are probably an iconographic vocabulary not just mere decorative designs.

This particular knife is a top quality example. The blade meets symmetrically at the two top points, which isn't always the case. The condition of all the metal work is pristine. The wood handle is not chipped and broken, which is also not the normal condition that the handles are in. The primary vertical body of the knife is slender and well proportioned and, viewed in comparison with any others, an excellent example of the shaman-iron worker's skill. In Africa there was an obsession for hand-made metal knives, currencies, spears and ritual objects. Because the solid rock ore was pulsified and eventually liquefied in the smelting and manufacturing process and then later cast or forged into a solid again, there was magic and alchemy involved. Metal objects are considered to be sacred and mystical, not just inanimate silent products. This scepter was a transformational object of material culture held in highest esteem by the tribe and the chief who owned it.

 

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Monjimbo Scepter

Primary Source © 2008