Zande model throwing knife

Zande model throwing knife
Other views of this artifact:

Accession Number:
?Congo, Democratic Republic of , ?Sudan
Cultural Group:
Date Made:
By 1899
Iron Metal , ?Brass Metal , Wood Plant , Copper Alloy Metal
Forged (Metal) , Hammered , Carved , Perforated , Bound , Decorated Incised Pyroengraved Pokerwork
Max L = 224 mm, W across top = 141 mm; handle W = 25, th = 22.7 at carination; 18.4 by 16.4 across brass wound area; brass strip = 3 to 4 mm wide; holes 5 to 7 mm in diameter; knife blade body W = 13 mm, th = 2 mm; leaf-shaped blade W = 33, th = 1 at cent
58.8 g
Other Owners:
Cornelis Marinus Pleyte
Field Collector:
?Cornelis Marinus Pleyte
PRM Source:
Cornelis Marinus Pleyte
Purchased December 1899
Collected Date:
By 1899
Small model throwing knife consisting of a handle carved from a single piece of yellowish brown wood (Pantone 464C) with an elongated pointed end and concave sides flaring out to an angular carination then in again to a cylindrical body with oval section. This swells out slightly with convex sides before joining with the blade tang. The handle has been pierced just above the carination, with one large and three smaller holes in a row around the circumference, meeting in the centre of the handle. There are some faint scorch marks inside the holes that suggest they were formed using a hot poker. The surfaces of the handle have been polished, but tool marks in the form of a series of faceted surfaces are still visible on the carination underside. It has also been decorated with pyroengraved pokerwork, with an interrupted line formed from a series of short strokes that runs around the handle between the holes and the carinated area. The lower, convex-sided part of the handle is covered with two rectangular brass strips, which have been wound several times around the body, and secured by turning their ends down and hammering them into the wood. Where these two strips meet one another at the centre of this area, the end of one strip has been hammered through a hole in the end of the other and pushed into the wood below. The brass is a currently a bright metallic yellow colour (Pantone 871C). Below this, the rectangular tang of the iron blade passes into a slot cut into the end of the wood; the handle has become much narrower at this point. The blade is currently a metallic gray colour (Pantone 421C). The blade of the knife has been hammered flat, and consists of a central piece with rectangular section that is blunt on both edges. This is almost straight at its base, but curves slightly to the right as it nears the top. The lower part of this has been chiselled away and pulled out at right angles from the body to form a short curving spur that tapers to a point. At the top of the body, two blades curve off at right angles to it. The larger of these has a leaf shaped body, with a raised lozenge shaped section running down its centre on the outer face and sharp outer edges. This continues in a line from its base to form a short concave sided spur with convex end; the latter has been hammered to form a sharp edge. These two blades have been decorated with a series of incised designs, punched into the surface. The larger blade is decorated with a crosshatched band that runs along the centre of the raised area, turning into a single zigzag line running towards the tip of the blade at one end, and simple hatching on the other, framed by a row of lightly punched dots that runs around the edge of the raised section. The shorter, spur blade has a double row of these dots running around its two concave sides, and as a short double arc across the junction of this to the larger blade. Finally, the swollen section where the straight body strut joins the two blades is decorated with an incised herringbone design. All this decoration occurs on the front surface of the knife; its back is flat and undecorated. The knife is complete and intact, with very minor damage to some of the sharpened edges. It has a weight of 58.8 grams, and is 224 mm long and 141 mm wide from the tip of the leaf shaped blade to the end of the spur blade. The handle measures 25 by 22.7 mm across its carination, and 18.4 by 16.4 mm across the swollen brass bound area below; the strips are 3 to 4 mm wide, and the holes through the handle range from 5 to 7 mm in diameter. The knife blade is 13 mm wide and 2 mm thick across its central body; the leaf shaped section has a maximum width of 33 mm, and a thickness of 1 mm at its centre, and around 0.25 mm at its edge, while the spur blade is 35 mm wide across the end and around 0.25 mm thick along its edge.

This object was sold to the museum by Cornelius Marinus Pleyte in 1899; it is not clear if he was also the original collector of the item.

For another Zande model knife, see 1899.85.1.

This object is currently on display in the Lower Gallery, case 10B.

Rachael Sparks 30/9/2005.

Primary Documentation:
Accession Book Entry [BI, p. 116] - 1899. [p. 117] [insert] 85 [end insert] C M PLEYTE , Leyden - Dec. [insert] 1-2 [end insert] - [One of] 2 toy throwing knives, small but accurate models, Niam Niam [insert] Azande [end insert], Cen[tral]. Africa. 10/-. [insert at base of page] R.R. petty cash 1- 9- 0 [end insert; Price includes all items from 1899.85.1 - .12].
Additional Accession Book Entry [p. 117, in column next to entry] - French Equatorial Africa.

Card Catalogue Entry - There is no further information on the tribes catalogue card [RTS 3/2/2004].

Old Pitt Rivers Museum label - Toy throwing knife. NIAM NIAM (AZANDE) C. AFRICA, purch. 1899 [tied to object; DCF Court Team 8/1/2004].

Funded by Arts and Humanities Research Council
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