Staff with standing female figure

Luba peoples
19th–20th century
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General Description

This staff of office is surmounted by a female posed with her hands to her breasts. This meaningful gesture refers to a mature woman's guarding of royal secrets. In Luba society, feminine maturity was manifested in a scarified body. Scarification patterns began to be applied upon initiation into womanhood and were added to and renewed throughout a woman's life. A deceased king would find a sculpture depicting a scarified woman to be a desirable container for his spirit.

Excerpt from

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