Fucile Modello 1891 (Rifle Model 1891, i.e. the year when production begun in Italy)
It has nothing to do with the African Tribal Art but this rifle was used also in Africa from the last years of 1800 to about 1930 or even 1940, originally for securing control of various Sultanates of Somalia and Eritrea, then later on during the war to conquer Ethiopia (Abyssinia) in 1935/1936.
No doubt it was occasionally (maybe even by simple mistake) used also against pacific tribes members who had nothing to do with the conflicts
By far however the most damage was done by this rifle during World War I which started in Central Europe on July 28, 1914 and then expanded to the South of Europe when in 1915 also Italy (and many other nations in the world) got involved in the conflict, at that time this type of rifle was already 24 years old but still widely used.
Officers (including my father), Sub-officers and Soldiers (including Ugo, the brother of my future mother) were given such rifle together with this specially printed scarf which normally they were keeping around their neck or in a pocket.
The scarf was one of the most precious things they had to keep always with themselves as it was giving detailed instructions about the rifle components, maintenance, basic problems solving, specifications of different types of ammunitions and correct use of the rifle, to optimize its life span and performance in the heart of the battle (i.e. killing the biggest number of enemies minimizing the number of wasted rounds, of course also the enemies were trained exactly the same way….only some guns were better than others….).
During four years hundreds of thousands of soldiers died with this scarf around their necks or in their pockets, including Ugo, just 19.
My father was lucky enough to carry this scarf back home when the war officially ended on November 11, 1918, when he too was still only 19.
Of course he never had the chance to know that a soldier Ugo from his same city of Genoa was fighting maybe in a nearby sector and would have never returned to his family.
Only 13 years later his wife (and my mother) to be did tell him that her brother Ugo was there too and never came back …