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HOME : African & Tribal Art : Kongo, Yombe : Kongo Wooden Staff
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Kongo Wooden Staff - PF.3797
Origin: Southwestern Congo
Circa: 20 th Century AD
Dimensions: 40.5" (102.9cm) high
Collection: African
Medium: Wood

Location: United States
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Whenever pure emotion is made visible, either spontaneously in life or through the medium of art, it is a very moving experience. When a human being invokes forces of the unknown, of ancestral spirits, deities or the ineffable Spirit of God, our own emotions are touched, as if a common fibre of humanity is strung like strings of a harp to our collective souls.

Naked and humbled, proud and defiant, this beautiful woman kneels on a pinnacle looking upwards in supplication; her mouth open, her eyes narrowed as if in a trance, her hands resting gently on her knees. Each gesture shows her humility and vulnerability before forces greater than herself, yet she crowns the staff and is dominant over it. Its slim, elegant form is like a gorgeous plant interlaced with delicate patterns and designs which have the effect of making our eyes lift upwards, following the folds and curves up to the peak of the woman's cap and beyond.

Such staffs were symbols of wealth, authority and respect. During palavers (public discussions), a messenger would hold the scepter in his hand to show that he had indeed been sent by his chief. These scepters or mvuala, were usually surmounted by refined female figures, occasionally containing relics. Because of its beauty it is a work of art; because of its inner nature, exemplified by the heartfelt emotions of the woman, it is more monumental than its height, making us lift our own eyes to the heavens and feel the forces that caress our lives.
- (PF.3797)


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