Ritual Axe

Songye PeopleEarly 20th century

Mudec - Museum of Cultures

Mudec - Museum of Cultures
Milan, Italy

In many areas of Central and Western Africa, axes symbolized the power of the ruler. This elaborate ornamental weapon was produced by the Songye, probably by the Nzappo Zap group who lived in the Kasai region, along the south-western flow of the Congo River. Some researchers believe that the heads that are engraved on the bars that connect the blade to the handle represent rival groups that were conquered, while other scholars suggest they represent masks associated with the Kifwebe spiritual society, symbols of the reciprocal respect between the society and the ruler


  • Title: Ritual Axe
  • Creator: Songye People
  • Date Created: Early 20th century
  • Location Created: Democratic Republic of Congo, Western Kasai Region
  • Physical Dimensions: l 26,5 cm
  • Type: Axe
  • Rights: Museum Fund - Museum of Cultures, Milan - AFR 153
  • Medium: Wrought and engraved iron, wood, copper foil
  • Collocazione: On view

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