that it shows four of the five original copper
“Kotas” hanging on a wall alongside an iron
No solid-copper Kota blade exists in any early
collection—the blade type simply did not exist
before Zirngibl invented it. Nor are there any
other knives from Africa constructed of a single
solid piece of metal—blade and handle are
always two distinct pieces, even when both
elements are composed of metal.13 Hebeisen
made only seven copper “Kota” blades, which
are large and artistically distinctive. Incredibly,
when Miersch visited Hebeisen in 2015, he still
had the eighth and final copper plate from the
original batch that Zirngibl had provided him
nearly forty years earlier (figs. 18a and b). However,
his seven blades have been copied repeatedly
over the years, forming a genre unto itself
and thereby producing a profound and lasting
impact on the African weapons market.
FIG. 16 (above):
Iron, copper. 33 cm.
Allan Ridel/Memoire Africaine
Photo: Ethan Rider.