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Throwing Knife (Democratic Republic of the Congo)

This is a Throwing knife.

This object is not part of the Cooper Hewitt's permanent collection. It was able to spend time at the museum on loan from National Museum of Natural History as part of Tools: Extending Our Reach.

It is dated Created before 1889. Its medium is iron, handle covered in braided fiber.

Weapons like this Y-shaped throwing knife were used primarily in central Africa, where they served in warfare and for hunting. To be aerodynamically effective, a throwing knife requires a particular height–width ratio and a standardized weight; its handle is covered with a tight-fitting material like braided fiber in order to maintain the instrument’s balance. When thrown, the knife rotates around its center of gravity; the dark color applied to the middle of the blade draws the eye to the sharp edges that reflect the sunlight as the weapon spins toward its target. The most common way to throw this knife was vertically over the shoulder, like a spear or javelin. Most groups’ arsenals in the past also included bows, arrows, and spears. This is one of sixty knives collected by Herbert Ward in the Congo Free State, now the Democratic Republic of the Congo, between 1884 and 1889.

It is credited Herbert Ward Collection, Department of Anthropology, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, E322652-6.

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Our curators have highlighted 4 objects that are related to this one. Here are three of them, selected at random:

  • Pierced Dish Dish
  • soft paste porcelain, vitreous enamel.
  • Gift of Wendy Vanderbilt Lehman.
  • 1992-5-3
  • Sling (Peru)
  • maguey fibers.
  • Museum purchase through gift of Marie Torrance Hadden.
  • 1947-31-1
  • Good Grips Knife
  • steel (stainless), santoprene (thermoplastic rubber).
  • Gift of OXO.
  • 1992-52-15

Its dimensions are

H x W x D: 1.3 x 24.1 x 38.4 cm (1/2 x 9 1/2 x 15 1/8 in.)

This object was previously on display as a part of the exhibition Tools: Extending Our Reach.

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If you would like to cite this object in a Wikipedia article please use the following template:

<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url= |title=Throwing Knife (Democratic Republic of the Congo) |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=28 March 2023 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>