Lot: 432

87th Tribal Art Auction

Staff of office "kibango"

D. R. Congo, Luba

Provenance Size Starting price / estimated price
Vicomte George d'Ouvrier (1884-1950), Brussels, Belgium (1920) H: 52.2 inch This object is not available anymore.

wood, middle brown patina, round staff with the middle section pierced in shape of an eight, crowned by antropomorphic head with high towering board-shaped superstructure, facial features and coiffure as well as grooved decor extremely fine carved, superstructure carved with small horns, metal tip (with traces of corrosion), slightly dam., breakage, abrasion of paint. Staffs of office "kibango" were both prestige items and receptacles for sacral power. Sanctified by ritual specialists, fortified with metal and medicine, they took on supernatural qualities and were said to have healing power. The depiction of duiker horns at the headdress may refer to the staffs curative capacities, since Luba doctors used small antelope horns to hold medicine. Furthermore the staffs function as mnemonic text, their forms and designs constituting sculpted narratives. They encode information about lineage history, which may be read as texts.


Roberts, Mary Nooter, Memory, New York 1996, p. 162 f.