|Bushoong Clan, Kuba People, Kasai Region, Democratic Republic of the Congo (Zaire), early 20th century or earlier|
This fine example of an ikul knife comes from the Bushoong clan of the Kuba people of the Kasai region. Both sides of the blade have an S or ogee shape, and are marked with five finely incised lines that follow the outline of the S. The two blade halves are polished and dulled black on each side, respectively, to imitate a negative mirror image of each other. The hilt is inlaid with brass and copper chips. The pommel is incised with an intricately interlaced design reminiscent of the weaving seen on Kuba raffia textiles. The base of the pommel has a traditional and identifiable guilloche pattern that is typically of Kuba shoowa designs.
|Location of Origin: Africa|
|Dimensions: length: 38cm|
|Primary Classification: African Artwork, Ethnographic & Tribal Arts : African Art|
|Secondary Classification: Antique guns, Antique Swords for Sale|
|This ikul has a strong resemblance to an ikul (1907.21.25) in the collection of the Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford, and to another in the van Opstal collection, offered at Artcurial, Paris in June 2008 (lot no. 560). This latter example was attributed to the period 1910-30.|
All adult Kuba men carried an ikul. The ikul was symbolic of their masculinity, class, warriorhood and kingship. The Kuba people were well known for their blacksmithing skills, which were considered a royal art with royal patronage. Knives, axes and currency blades were made from forged iron, the forms of which often exhibit inventiveness and workmanship beyond what was functionally necessary.
Ikul can be seen in the Ndop, the carved wooden portraits that commemorate each Kuba king. Ikul knives that bear a conical pommel appeared in the early seventeenth century under the patronage of King Shyaam aMbul aNgoong (his Ndop currently is displayed in the British Museum). They were carried exclusively by the ruling Bushoong clan as a symbol of peace. Carrying a weapon to symbolise peace might seem counterintuitive, but the Kuba believed that peace could only be assured by possessing powerful weaponry as a deterrent.
The Bushoong clan is part of the larger Kuba ethnic group and numbers only about 17,000 today. Though numerically small, the Bushoong have long been the Kuba ruling clan. The Bushoong king is a direct descendant of the mythical unifier of the Kuba, King Shyaam. Legend has it that it was the creator god Bumba who determined that the Bushoong should rule over the Kuba.
References: Ginzberg, M., African Forms, Skira editore, 2000.
|Provenance: Acquired in the early 1970s at Wallis & Wallis by the previous owner.|
|Price:||Item has been sold.|
|Offered By:||Items for sale from dealers we worked with previously|
121 Mount Vernon, Boston, MA 02108 USA
Item has been sold.
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