Join Date: Jan 2008
Thanks again to those who have input further on this, especially to Katana for his comprehensive research on the "ring and dot" motif. Seemingly the symbol also goes back to Neolithic times, described as "cup and ring markings" often carved in rock, particularly to be found in Scotland & North England. Here are a couple of images I have located of examples on bone from Africa, from the book "Zulu Treasures".
Two points to highlight about the knife - the cross-section of the blade is uniformly flat and quite thin, also the outline of the blade is a bit like a bowie knife, with the clipped point. I forgot to mention in my first post that the word "African" can just be made out in ink on the label, but it can be seen faintly on the image, (could be mis-labeled though).
Given the available evidence, I am inclined to believe the knife is a Southern African copy of a European knife, which would explain the relative crudeness of its manufacture. Could have been made by natives for their own use as a prestige item, or maybe a commission to an African craftsman by a European colonial, who needed a general cutting or hunting-type weapon.
Can't be sure 100% of course, but its interesting whatever.