Staff with standing male figure

Songye peoples
19th–20th century
more object details

General Description

This sculpture may be the upper section of the staff or spear of a Songye chief or a walking cane for a notable. The figure resembles the standing nkisi power figure (2014.4.1.McD), which represents a chief whose neck is ringed with blue and white beads and whose hands hold a bulging belly filled with magical substances. The association is fitting because a Songye chief was considered to be a sacred and benign figure endowed with the most supreme mystical powers As such, he was the supreme nganga (religious specialists) who could activate minkisi (pl., or nkisi) to assure the well-being of his community.

Adapted from

Roslyn A. Walker, Label text, Arts of Africa, 2015.