Staff

Elaborately carved staff with angular forms along the shaft and topped with a figurine with a rounded head, heart-shaped face and two stylized arms resting on the stomach. A large Z-shaped handle is carved in the middle of the shaft, with a series of cubes and conical forms above and beneath it.
Artist Unknown, African, Ngbaka peoples Democratic Republiic of the Congo
1930-1970
The attribution of artworks to a single ethnic group is difficult in a region as diverse as that surrounding the Ubangi River, bordering the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Central African Republic. Like many similar regions in Africa, the Ubangi River area has for centuries been characterized by "open borders" that allow for the easy movement of people and objects. The carved figure topping this stick represents the general characteristics of a regional Ubangi style. Among the Ngbaka, as well as neighboring peoples, tall sticks were used to strike the ground during initiation rituals: the noise would warn people that the male initiates were approaching. Female dancers would also brandish carved, notched sticks called "kangala" on the occasion of the initiation of girls.
Gift of Margaret H. and Albert J. Coudron
2001/2.36
Saturday, August 13, 2022
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