Ceremonial Staff (Kibango)
Arts of Africa
On View: African Storage Annex, East Gallery, 1st Floor
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.
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 Collection
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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
detail, 22.1132_detail_PS1.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2007
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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.
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