This type of axe, known as kilonda was mainly produced by the Songye, but also by the Nsapo and Luba.

Though their shape was largely inspired by functional weapons, they were strictly symbols of prestige and pageantry. Songye blacksmiths are widely respected as the greatest masters of the forge and used both hot and cold forging techniques to embellish these blades.

Distinguishing Features

  • Bulbous apex
  • Triangular-shaped blade
  • Blade made of openwork iron
  • Number of spokes, bands and relief elements vary greatly
  • Heads depicted on blade spokes
  • Blade incised with anthropomorphic face(s)
  • Head engraved on bars that connect blade to handle
  • Wooden handle wrapped in reptile skin or copper
  • Massive handle with flared base

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