Michael Graham-Stewart collection, World Cultures, Africa, Special collections

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Akan knife and sheath

ZBA2487
Michael Graham-Stewart collection

Object details:

Object ID ZBA2487
Description Akan knife and sheath. The sheath has a shell and a lead model of human teeth attached to it. The red-dyed shell is characteristic of Baule culture (from the Ivory Coast), while the human jaw is more typical of the Akan people (from present-day Ghana) and suggests a trophy attached to the knife to indicate the power of its owner. Before European contact, Akan peoples had migrated into Baule territory and there were extensive trade connections between the Akan and the Baule. It is likely that this knife and sheath are the result of cultural interactions: either the knife was purchased by Akan traders from the Baule who then added the jaw, or the Akan had influenced the Baule in the making of this artefact.
Date made circa 1800

Artist/Maker Unknown
Credit National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London, Michael Graham-Stewart Slavery Collection. Acquired with the assistance of the Heritage Lottery Fund
Materials lead; leather; shell; steel
Measurements Knife: 35 x 245 x 57 mm
Parts
  • Akan knife and sheath (ZBA2487)
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