Ngombe Ngulu Sword 2 (Congo)

Ngombe Ngulu sword

Code:  AC5

ngombe mask, Congo

The Ngulu sword is known as an “executioner’s sword”, for that was its primary use over a large area of the Congo. Manufactured by the Ngombe tribe, the ngulu was traded to many different tribes including the Bangala (Ngala) of the Mongo people.  (See also Bangala Ngulu and Ngombe Ngulu).

This sword is 26 inches in total length, with some damage, repairs, and oxidation on the surface of the blade.

These dramatic, elaborate knives were used as ceremonial pieces over a wide area of what is now DR Congo, formerly Zaire. They were also used in ceremonial executions of slaves.  Executions were not judicial events for criminals. They were ceremonial events and the "chosen" were invariably slaves. Execution of slaves was part of a ceremony to conclude a pact of peace among two warring tribes.  By the 20th century, the ngulu had been transformed into a ceremonial dance blade due to the rules of colonial Belgium which forebade execution and cannibalism (equially widespread at the time).  The Ngombe were known as voracious cannibals and "fierce man-hunters", raiding and killing for "cannibal orgies" (see reference below).

The Ngombe used the knife in the "Likbeti" dance, which often lasted two days. A goat was sacrificed with a single stroke of the ngulu sword at the end of the dance, and feasting consumed the limbs and torso of the goat just as human victims were in earlier times.

Read more about the Ngala / Ngulu Execution Sword.

Nelson, Samuel H. Colonialism in the Congo Basin, 1880-1940. Athens, OH: Ohio University Center for International Studies, 1994. Print. Africa Ser., No. 64.