Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Ceremonial Staff: Head Finial (Kibango)

19th–20th century
Democratic Republic of the Congo
Luba peoples
Wood, iron
H. 53 1/4 x W. 5 x D. 2 3/4 in. (135.3 x 12.7 x 7 cm)
Credit Line:
The Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Collection, Purchase, Nelson A. Rockefeller Gift, 1972
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 352
The eighteenth and nineteenth centuries saw a flourishing Luba sculptural tradition that was designed to identify and glorify the king, chiefs, and titled officials who constituted the complex hierarchy of leadership within the Luba empire. Like many African peoples, the Luba consider their kings to be divine, endowed with supernatural powers that can influence social well-being and the productivity of the land. As descendants of the empire's founders, Luba leaders possess bulopwe, sacred blood, which enables them to rule and entitles them to own magnificent regalia, including carved wooden objects, metal articles, beads, fur, and feathers. Luba rites of royal investiture center on the transferal of these articles of insignia, which are considered the embodiment of the very essence of kingship. The sculptural forms within this collection derive from such utilitarian implements as three-pronged bow rests and paddle-shaped staffs, objects that recall the hunting and fishing economy of the Luba past.
Clark and Frances Stillman, New York, until 1972; The Museum of Primitive Art, New York, 1972–1978

Related Objects

Ceremonial Staff: Seated Female Finial (Kibango)

Date: 19th–early 20th century Medium: Wood, copper, metal, iron Accession: 1978.412.646 On view in:Gallery 352

Power Figure: Male (Nkisi)

Date: 19th–20th century Medium: Wood, copper, brass, iron, fiber, snakeskin, leather, fur, feathers, mud, resin Accession: 1978.409 On view in:Gallery 352

Prestige Stool: Female Caryatid

Artist: Buli Master, possibly Ngongo ya Chintu (Hemba, ca. 1810-1870) Date: 19th century Medium: Wood, metal studs Accession: 1979.290 On view in:Gallery 352

Half Figure: Female

Date: 19th–20th century Medium: Wood, metal studs, pigment Accession: 1978.412.542 On view in:Gallery 352

Female Figure: Seated on Stool

Date: 19th–20th century Medium: Wood Accession: 1979.206.56 On view in:Gallery 352