Jun 10, 2009

Knife-sheath tip (sika boha)

Knife-sheath tip (sika boha)

1800s

Gold

Overall: 6.4 x 2.1 cm (2 1/2 x 13/16 in.)

Weight: 4.19 g (0.15 oz.)

Dudley P. Allen Fund 1935.309

Description

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
Collection: 
African Art
Department: 
African Art
Type of artwork: 
Arms and Armor
Medium: 
Gold
Credit line: 
Dudley P. Allen Fund

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