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Originally Posted by fernando
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 Joăo 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.
Fernando, there is certainly no doubt that Christianity made inroads on the African continent early on in the 15th century and that various African cultures did indeed accept it and work Christian iconography into their cultural artifacts. However, i was addressing Ibrahiim's assertions in my post, specifically references to "Voodoo geometry" and his link in his post #159 to images of the Haitian Vodoun vévé for Papa Legba, the Lwa of the crossroads. Vodun is more specific to the Dahomey Kingdom than the Konga Kingdom. While i remarked that the equilateral cross has many pre-Christian occurrences all over the world and is intact a symbol of the the crossroads in parts of African as well as the diaspora, vévé themselves, the practice of drawing these Lwa symbols on the ground with flour for ritual purpose is one that developed in Haiti and other diaspora countries, not Mother Africa herself, so the Legba crossroads symbol Ibrahiim posted has little bearing on this topic. However, in Africa this equilateral cross symbol was in use in pre-Christian days. Once Christianized i am sure that it took on a different meaning an purpose, but wherever one religion supplants another there is often some hold over to previous belief systems and meanings can be a bit fuzzy to interpret. There are also numerous syncretic sects throughout Africa that combine Christianity with traditional African religions. But when i wrote 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" i was referring to weapons from cultures that were purely African and had not fully converted to Christian ways. Either way i believe it is still difficult to tell the exact intent and purpose of the equilateral cross when it appears on these swords.