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Ceremonial Staff (Kibango)

Arts of Africa

Luba chiefs, spiritual leaders, and diviners all use carved staffs as symbols of authority. On many staffs, as in most Luba arts of authority, kingship is represented by a woman. These figures express a belief in women’s powers to connect the worlds of humankind and the spirits. Further, because women are capable of holding two spirits in one body during pregnancy, they are considered to be stronger than men. During a chief’s investiture the chief’s sister or first wife precedes him, carrying the staff and placing it near the throne.

The twin-figured staff refers to Mpanga and Banze, twin spirits of Luba kingship, whose two-way gaze suggests clairvoyance.
MEDIUM Wood, glass beads, cloth, fiber, iron, copper alloy
DATES 19th century
DIMENSIONS 59 x 3 3/4 x 3 7/8 in. (149.9 x 9.5 x 9.8 cm)  (show scale)
COLLECTIONS Arts of Africa
CREDIT LINE Brooklyn Museum Collection
CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Wooden staff. Surmounted by female figure with hands on breasts. Face seems carved with greater realism than most in this style, yet all else is in tradition. Black finish removed, traces of it remain in crevices. Eyes were originally inlaid, now missing. CONDITION: Ornamental trimming worn.
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
CAPTION Luba. Ceremonial Staff (Kibango), 19th century. Wood, glass beads, cloth, fiber, iron, copper alloy, 59 x 3 3/4 x 3 7/8 in. (149.9 x 9.5 x 9.8 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn Museum Collection, 22.1132. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 22.1132_PS1.jpg)
IMAGE overall, 22.1132_PS1.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2007
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