Throwing Knife (Democratic Republic of the Congo), Created before 1889
This is a Throwing knife.
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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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.