X86.1724 Dignitary’s staff

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Dignitary’s staff
Zaire
Nkanu or Sosso
Wood
H: 74 cm, D: 10.5 cm (H: 29.1 in, D: 4.1 in)
Fowler Museum at UCLA. The Jerome L. Joss Collection. X86.1724

Category:
Description

The large, circular eyes and long, tapering nose of this staff relate it to several masks which have emerged from Angola over the past ten years and apparently derive from either the Nkanu or Sosso. The double heads, each with a high coiffure, a protuberance with three holes and a hooked top are, however, unique to this object. In contemporary African political life, canes have replaced staffs as emblems of authority. This example, with its handle, appears to syncretize a standard European walking cane with the more elaborated staffs of traditional chiefs. The vertical rows of small holes likely featured brass tacks, while the extended element at the center of the staff was undoubtedly used to suspend attachments.

Source: Ross, Doran H. ed. (1994): “Visions of Africa”, Los Angeles, UCLA Fowler Museum of Cultural History. page 120

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