AN EXTRAORDINARY SONGYE ROYAL AXE
About the piece
This magnificent creation of the iron forgers artistry is a companion to an example in the Michael D. Rockefeller collection (1978.412.370) in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Clearly the product of the same workshop, it is likely made by the same hand. They are among the objects owned and displayed by a Songye ruler dating to the turn of the 20th century or slightly earlier. Both display the skills of a master smith creating forms which seem to defy the natural limitations of iron work. Each incorporates a pair of masks to the central bars, suggested in the example as perhaps miniature kifbwe masks. The hafts of both are clad in copper with a median circle and dot band and central copper tape wrap. As with the example, the present example shows the effects of years of handling as well as careful preservation. The surface condition of copper and iron as well as the age patina is identical for both.Length overall:16 1/2".Note: illustration and details of the Metropolitan Museum example can be seen by Google image searching for Songye Axe.