Indiana University Bloomington IU Bloomington IUB


A staff such as this is one of the symbols of leadership traditionally given a Kongo chief at his investiture, and, if he lent it to a delegate, that delegate was supposed to be accorded the same obedience and respect that the chief himself would receive. The figure at the top of the staff likely depicts a chief. He sits cross-legged, hand to face, a pose associated with contemplation, circumspection, and careful listening, all qualities important in a good leader.

Kongo peoples, Democratic Republic of the Congo
Staff, detail
19th century (?)
Wood, brass nails, stone
H. 47 ¾ in. (121.3 cm)
Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art, 76.1.1