Forensic Fashion
(c) 2006-present R. Macaraeg


>Costume Studies
>>1884 Kuba noble
Subject: noble
Culture: Bushoong, Konda
Setting: Kuba kingdom, central Africa 19thc

Context (Event Photos, Primary Sources, Secondary Sources, Field Notes)







* Geary/Xatart 2007 p173
"Kuba short swords (ikul) appeal to collectors for the engraved lines on their copper alloy blades, finely inlaid brass on their wooden handles, and their connection to Kuba royalty.  A sword with an iron blade, a wooden handle, and a sheath covered with European brass furniture tacks comes from the Ekonda peoples in the central DRC and demonstrates how successfully African artists integrated foreign media into their designs.  Like buttons, beads, and other imports from Europe, these rare tacks adorned prestigious objects, indicating the owners' importance in society."

* Capwell 2009 p210 (describing a Konda shortsword, mid-19th century)
"This handsome knife was produced by the Konda of Haute-Zaire.  Although its general shape commends it to close fighting, there is no doubt that in peaceful times it would have doubled as a particularly useful general-purpose knife."

​* Pitt Rivers Museum online > Iron headed spear (1919.28.9)
"Kuba men usually travelled armed with knives" ...

​​* Pitt Rivers Museum online > ​Ikul (1907.21.25)
"All adult Kuba men carried the ikul in historical times. As occurred in many other cultures, the sword served as a symbol of adult masculinity. The Kuba are notable for their skills in blacksmithing and the importance in which they hold the community's blacksmith. Smithing was (alongside weaving and a select few other arts) considered a royal art. This explains why the bearing of arms was regarded by the Kuba not only as a cultural symbol of class, manhood and warriorhood, but also of kingship.
    "There are certain kinds of ikul (those bearing a conical pommel) which were first designed and created by King Shyaam aMbul aNgoong in the early 17th century, and which are exclusively carried by those Kuba of the ruling Bushoong clan as a symbol of peaceful reign. That a weapon should serve as a symbol of peace may seem confusing, but this accurately reflects the fact that peace can often only be guaranteed by a government possessing effective military force."