Daulton Art
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executioner's sword

Ngombe/Ngala peoples,

Congo Basin

 

 

Ngulu Executioner's Sword

 

iron blade with a wood and leather hilt, mounted

 

length: approx. 76 cm

 

Bantu peoples (Ngombe, Ngala, et al.)

Congo Basin, Subsaharan Africa

 

19th-early 20th century

 

provenance:  collected in Togo by Jack Daulton


A power symbol, this type of sword, known as a Ngulu, is sometimes referred to as an "executioner's sword" or as a "sacrifice sword," as it was, in former times, used for beheadings.  In the 20th century, after beheadings had been prohibited by the colonial authorities, the sword took on a more ceremonial role, being used in ritual dances culminating in the decapitation of a goat.  For a discussion of this type of sword, see Werner Fischer and Manfred A. Zirngibl, Afrikanische Waffen [African Weapons] (Passau, Germany: Prinz-Verlag, 1978).

 



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