Staff with standing female figure and baby

Lwena peoples
19th–20th century
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General Description

In matrilineal Lwena society, political power is vested in males descended through the female line from a commonly known female ancestor. It stands to reason that in this society, the ideal woman is a mother and would be depicted on a chief's staff of office. She represents the ancestral mothers of the chief's royal lineage and their spiritual powers, which he must gain access to for the benefit of his subjects.

Staffs of office were inherited; however, in some cases chiefs made presents of staffs to other chiefs or they were taken as trophies after battle.

Excerpt from

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