Fang / Kota Bird head knife

          This copper knife is very special: it was once considered a grand rarity and figured by Zirngibl (1983) in his book “Seltene afrikanische Kurzwaffen”.

          In a travel book written by L.A. Smith it is mentioned that Sir George Fullham received five of these knives by a Fan Chieftain named “Njong” as a token of appreciation for his successful treatment of an eye infection. A similar knife is figured in the Zirngibl book and it was though the knife represented a toucan or vulture. The present knife was on display during a Fatal Beauty exhibition at the national Museum of History in Taiwan in June 2009 and has been shown in Fatal Beauty in 2009.

         However, as late as 2010 or around that time, it became clear that the half a dozen “Copper Double-Eye Musele” were fakes made in Europe. This is one of them.

        They were made on the demand of Zirngibl in the early 1980’s by an Austrian blacksmith who is called Tilman Hebeisen. In total Hebeisen produced 7 similar knives of this type.

        I purchased this knife from antique art dealer Patrick Mestdagh for 6000 euro around 1990. It is the last of the seven-piece produced, and it is not before 2022 that the world became aware about the fake condition of these “Musele”. Which are basically thanks to the detective work of Ethan Rider. He published the details of the story online:

It is a very prestigious piece to have, with a big history, even if it is not a real “tribal art” knife.

Figured by Elsen in “Fatal Beauty” (2009).