TivREGION OF ORIGIN:
Benue Region - Nigeria.MATERIAL:
Bronze and Iron.SIZE:
19" (48.3 cm) Tall.CONDITION:
Estimated Early 20th Century.
Private Estate Collection - California, USA.
‘Tongue-as-blade' axes occur throughout Western and Central Africa, especially among the Songye. This brass and iron ax handle belonged to the Kunav clan of the Tiv, a people of the south Benue province in Nigeria. The head is highly abstract, but bears certain resemblances to an owl, which is associated by the Tiv with occult powers.
Impractical as weapons, ceremonial axes are more of sculptures than functional weapons; symbols of rank, dignity, authority and power, worn over the shoulder of high status individuals. Tiv clan leaders possessed metal regalia in iron and copper alloys that indicated their status and power. Among the lost-wax cast objects associated with the Tiv are staffs, axes, snuff takers, tobacco pipes, and ritual voice disguisers. Many have figurative elements, the style of which is recognizably "Tiv."