Knife with head at end of handle

Mangbetu peoples
19th–20th century
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General Description

The handle of this knife (sape) is carved in the form of a woman's head with the distinctive Mangbetu royal women's hairstyle. Creating the hairstyle involved wrapping a woman's elongated forehead—which had been reshaped in infancy—with string and drawing her long hair around a basketry frame to create a halo effect.

Both men and women used knives for various purposes. An ornament as well as an implement, daggers were furnished with an elephant hide sheath and worn in the belt.

Excerpt from

Roslyn A. Walker, Label text, Arts of Africa, 2015.