Photographs © Tim Hamill
These Yoruba knives are brass, with wood handles. They are embossed and worked on one side only, the backs are plain. Although used, they were not everyday knives and appear to be primarily ceremonial.
Knives, axes, currency blades and spears, most made of forged iron, attest to the skills in metal of the blacksmiths of many traditional African peoples. Most exhibit an inventive variety of form and workmanship far beyond what was functionally necessary. Some functioned as weapons. Many , however, were solely for ceremonial or ritual use, or displayed for prestige or status. The largest selections also served as currency, with forms made in the style of weapons, but not functional.
All of these are as we obtained them. Many of the currencies, especially, are 19th C. and will exhibit some rust or erosion. Some collectors and dealers prefer the knives highly cleaned, even ground down to the raw metal, then polished. This can be done to any of our knives but it is not a reversible process aand we do not do it.
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