N1S4S628R.jpg (24864 bytes)N1S4S628S.jpg (19178 bytes)N1S4S628.jpg (29557 bytes)Luba (Baluba, Kaluba, Louba, Uruwa, Waluba, Warua), Democratic Republic of the Congo

Staff of Office. The Luba art counts amongst the finest that Africa has to offer and has had enormous influence over neighboring peoples. A new cult, outlawing the ancestor cult, has been the cause of an almost systematic destruction of their traditional art. Many of its ancient traditions have survived, however, among them the use of staffs as emblems of leadership. Staffs of office were both prestige items and receptacles for sacral power. Sanctified by ritual specialists, they took on supernatural qualities and were said to have healing power. Luba staff narrators often identify the female figure as the king, whose spirit is carried in the body of a woman, and whose powers are tucked secretly within her breasts. Here the body of woman is topped with a kifwebe mask. The Kifwebe society used such masks to ward off disaster and other threats. It was warn at ceremonies honoring a dead chief, at the installation of a new chief, and at the welcoming of important visitors to the village. It had the capacity to heal by means of the supernatural force it incorporated.

Material: wood

Size: 16”x 5”x 3”