Jun 10, 2009

Knife Handle Cover

Knife Handle Cover



Overall: 4.3 cm (1 11/16 in.)

Dudley P. Allen Fund 1935.311

Did you know?

Only members of the goldsmiths' guild, who claimed descent from the first goldsmith Fusu Kwabi, could make gold ornaments for the royals and their entourage.


Gold sheaths covered the cast iron blade of a king’s ceremonial knife (sikay), wrapping them with symbolism. In Akan states like the Asante Kingdom, gold embodies life force (kra) and is the sun’s earthly counterpart. Only goldsmiths’ guild members could make gold ornaments for the royals and their entourage, or for the royal treasury. Here, the goldsmith used a tool to push the raised floral, leaf, and geometric designs from the back of a soft sheet of gold (repoussé technique). Small dots outlining some motifs were punched into the metal. Similarly decorated gold sheets and solid ornaments capped a knife’s handle.

See also
African Art
African Art
Type of artwork: 
Arms and Armor
Credit line: 
Dudley P. Allen Fund

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