Ceremonial Adze with Relief Heads on Blade

19th–20th century
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General Description

This wooden adze is decorated with hammered designs on small copper alloy (brass) plates covering the butt and narrow bands wound around the shaft. The long iron blade is encrusted with strips of copper in geometric designs.

An adze is a tool artists use to carve wood into masks, figures, containers, the handles of weapons, and other objects. This tool is distinguished from an axe by its blade, which is set at right angles to the handle. A decorated blade on an adze indicates the object is a nonfunctional ceremonial object. On ceremonial occasions, a chief would carry it over his shoulder.

Excerpt from

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