Lot: 430

Staff of office "kibango", end of 19th century

D. R. Congo, Luba

Provenance Size Hammer price
George Gillot, Colonial Official in Belgish Congo (died 24 March 1933?) L: 47.8 inch 4900 EUR

wood, brown patina, pigment remains, nails, round staff, presumably once wrapped with metal strips, slightly dam., traces of old age, possibly rep. (?), base. 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 on the lower portion of this staff may refer to the staffs curative capacities, since Luba doctors used small antelope horns to hold medicine. The janus heads at the top of the staff depict the twin tutelary spirits "mpanga" and "banze". The broad diamond-shaped section is a representation of "dibulu" which represent the administrative centers that are part of every royal captial. The staff of office "kibango" function as a mnemonic text, its forms and designs constituting sculpted narratives. Each "kibango" represents the history of a particular chief or titleholder, and the migration of his ancestors, his genealogy, and the location of tutelary spirits and natural resources.