While historically used as a weapon amongst the sophisticated armies of the Zande and Nzakara, this type of throwing knife, known as kpinga, became obsolete in the 20th century, and became more an object of symbolism than function.

In particular, they were used in ceremonies honouring the ancestors, wielded during funerals of powerful men, and even thrown onto or buried in gravesites.

Potent symbols of power, they were considered to be the prerogative of nobility, and were often hoarded and protected in storehouses; only select men had the privilege of keeping a kpinga in his home.

Distinguishing Features

  • Aerodynamic, 'winged' type knife
  • Multi-pronged throwing knife
  • Four sharp blades of different shapes radiate from central shaft at different angles
  • Head formed by large blade at right angles to shaft with smaller subsidiary blade above it
  • Short, sharp, triangular blade between to two top blades
  • Large blade at 45° to shaft on other side and just above handle
  • Blades have rounded, dull ends
  • Engravings on blades
  • Some have fibre wrapping on handle
  • Elaborate examples have incised stems and pierced bridges

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