Tibbu & Teda – Muzri / Tibesti throwing knife

Throwing knife made by the famous Haddat forgers and used by the Tibbu and the Teda tribes from the Darfur region. According to Frobenius, the shape represents a duck, which is the secret animal of the noble Tomagra-clan from the Tibbu tribe. Before 1900, H: 62,5 cm, Iron-leather.


         This throwing knife of the “northern style” has been on display in the Exhibition “Utotombo” held from March 25 to June 5, 1988 at the Centre for Fine Arts,

 Brussels.  A prominent jury of African art experts selected this particular knife as a centerpiece.


         According to Westerdijk (1988) there are only 23 pieces of this type in museums and private collections.  Reference: the African throwing knife, 1988


This particular knife has been figured in 2 books:

  • Utotombo, Kunst uit Zwart- Afrika in Belgische prive-bezit, 1988.
  • Belgium Collects African Art, 2000


         Of a particular interest because it has an original repair in the center of the shaft and the exquisite shape.

Ngala - Ngata

A chieftain knife from Central Africa. Only a few examples survive in private hands. Mondjembo, copper wirings on the handle, before 1900.  Manfred Zirngibl displays a similar knife on page 114 in his “Afrikanische Waffen” (1978) and chose it for the dustcover of the work.


         This knife has been on display during the Fatal Beauty Exhibition at the National Museum of History in Taiwan, June 2009.

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


A copper and ivory king’s Mangbele knife.  19th century, Mangbetu tribe. 


         In the Manfred Zirngibl, Seltebe Afrikanische kurzwaffen, 1983 a similar knife has been shown, but without ivory.  The Mangbetu kings used this type of knife as a scepter while receiving guests and practice in ceremonies. The use of copper and ivory is a sign of status in the tribe. One of the best examples known.


Ex-collection Jr. Van Overstraeten.

Published in the Belgium Collects African Art, 2000

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: https://ertribal.com/index.php/tribal-art/analysis-inauthenticity/copper-kota-double-eye

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).

Throwing knife Kipinga

         A Zande Avungara throwing knife.  Before 1920.  Congo Central Africa.

         An engraved knife of exceptional quality with multiple circles and a lizard.

         According to Westerdijk (1988) this is a type 1D throwing knife which has the richest form of decorations.  He concluded in his studies that only 24 of this type exist in major private collections and museums altogether.

The present knife has been published in the Belgium Collects African Art book, 2000.