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Chokwe Figural Staff Angola Congo African Art

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Title Chokwe Figural Staff Angola Congo African Art
Type of Object Staff
Country of Origin Democratic Republic of Congo, Angola
People Chokwe
Materials Wood, pigment
Approximate Age 20th century
Height (in) 27.5
Width (in) 3
Depth (in) 6.5
Dimensions Height: 27.5 Inches
Width: 3 Inches
Depth: 6.5 Inches
29 x 5.5 x 5 Inches on base
Overall Condition Fair
Damage/Repair Large cracks, chips, well worn patina, pitting

Additional Information: This carved staff with a figure on the top comes from the Chokwe living in a large culture cluster in central Angola today. The most prominent of these various peoples in this Angolan area are the Chokwe but also includes the Ovimbundu, Lunda, Lwena, Luvala, Minungu, Mbwela, Songo and Imbangala.

This is a region that shared stylistic elements and sculptural forms based upon analogous mythologies. They may also share influences of neighboring Tabwa or Luba sculptural styles. Among the Chokwe or one of the other closely related peoples figures on the top can represent a royal wife, it could be a chief or an honored ancestor, a hamba. The figure on this cane represents more likely a hamba. For, the representations of the chief or his wife are more elaborate than the Hamba figures. All these figures are considered to have superior supernatural powers with a protective function. Such canes were mainly held by diviners. But other dignitaries could as well hold such s staff as an indication of their high status in the society.

Recommended Reading:

Jordan, M. ed., Chokwe, Art and Initiation Among Chokwe and Related peoples. 1998.