Lot: 319

98th Auction

Scepter knife "cimpaaba" ("cimpaba", "kiphaba" or "tschimpapa")

D. R. Congo, Woyo

Provenance Size Starting price / estimated price
L: 21.3 inch 1500 EUR
plus 23 % commission, VAT, transport and insurance

brass, lead,

"Cimpaaba" were used among the Woyo of Cabinda (Angola) and Congo-Kinshasa, as well as among the Kakongo, the Lingi, and the Vili.

They were part of the regalia of a tribal chief and were a symbol of his authority. An emissary entrusted with the "cimpaaba" of a tribal chief spoke with the authority of the latter.

Several authors mention that "cimpaaba" played an important part in trials. Even the mere display of the sceptre knife could silence heated debates. The use of the "cimpaaba" was associated with certain codes. The way in which a "cimpaaba" was held or placed on the ground during palavers, provided information about the imposition of a sentence, or the support for or opposition against one party or another.

The various motifs that decorate the blade of the "cimpaaba", either incised or openworked, refer to proverbs. Some of these pictographic sayings apparently were the mottos of clearly identified clans, while others were simply connected with the expression of power and its legitimacy.

Volper, Julien, "Three Silver Cimpaaba, Afro-European Exchanges on the Kongo Coast in the 18th and 19th Centuries", in: Tribal Art, 101, Autumn 2021, p. 82 ff