Staff

A stylized human head with an elaborate coiffure, sitting atop a larger animal head with scarification marks below the eyes, tops a well-carved staff with angular handle and a zig-zag carved pattern below the handle. The eyes of both figures are set in shallow cavities and appear squinted or closed.
Artist Unknown, African, Yaka Peoples, Democratic Republic of the Congo
mid 20th century
Finely carved staffs (called "kooko" or "nhkuumbu" in the local language) display their use as symbols of a chief's authority. Reference to leadership and the elders is also made in the variations in coiffure and headgear that represent the distinctive hairstyles of previous generations of chiefs. Among the Yaka, living elders and chiefs were regarded as repositories of supernatural powers, who can protect against evil as well as withdraw their protection in case of disobedience or disrespect.
Gift of Margaret H. and Albert J. Coudron
2001/2.19
Sunday, August 14, 2022
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