Originally Posted by David
...So while it is most logical to assume that the equilateral cross when found on a solely African weapon most probably does not have a Christian affiliation, it is not so clear as to the meaning and purpose of such a symbol when it appears on weapons outside West African spheres.
Several Congolese swords are found with such crosses in their quillon discs, David. I hardly see these perforations as symbols originated (different than adopted) by Kongo Africans. Amazingly a scholar (Wanynn 1961,65) even names them as Greek crosses.
The order of Christus, for one, was also present in the Kongo kingdom and had swords in their possession as a sign of status (Schellings 1949, 12).
The Kongo kingdom was defined by the mutation process where European elements were incorporated in domestic culture.
Portuguese arrived in Congo in 1482 and soon converted the local monarchs to Christianty. The first monarch to be baptized was Nzinga-a-Nkuwu, with Christian name Joćo I in 1491. The process went smoothly because the Christian elements called for domestic ideas on their own ideology. Afonso I (1509-1540), the secong king converted to christianty, had seen this well, and confirmed his power for the Europeans and for the domestic population by the setting up with catholicism. The European elite symbol, the sword, was taken over. Together with the crucifix, these two European elements have certainly incorporated most of the habits of the Bakongo (Wannyn 1961, 67).
Deceased Kongo monarchs were found buried with these swords in a Christian attitude.
The symbolism behind the sword for the Bakongo is reduced to the domestic ideas concerning iron and their own theology which was reflected in the form of the sword. Also the rituals which were carried out with the swords reflected this symbolism; in any case the swords came initially from Europe. At the time of the Portugese, European swords were used. Later these became scarcer and domestic copies started being made.
The last soba to have a portuguese Christian name was Soba Nkanga-a-Lukeni, Garcia II (1641-1661). This adds to two centuries of culture blending.