SPECIAL ADVISORY: In accordance with Yale University’s revised COVID-19 protocols, the Yale University Art Gallery will close to the public beginning Friday, October 16, 2020. Learn More

African Art
PrevNext1 of 2
Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery
PrevNext2 of 2
Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery

Staff of Office

probably 1930–1950

Wood, copper, and aluminum

44 7/8 × 4 1/2 × 3 1/8 in. (114 × 11.5 × 8 cm)
Charles B. Benenson, B.A. 1933, Collection
Across Africa, staffs signaled the high status, wealth, and power of their owners, and often still do. Luba staffs were handed down over generations, and they played a significant role in investiture practices. They also functioned as visual markers of history. The owner planted his staff in the ground during public ceremonies and war; an upright staff in a battlefield signified victory. Though carved by a Luba artist, this particular staff was clearly made in the Songye style, illustrating the fluidity in ethnic attributions and the mobility of both artists and works of art.
Kabongo region, Central Africa, Democratic Republic of the Congo
On view
20th century
Tools and Equipment

Carlo Monzino collection. Philippe Guimiot, Brussels, prior to 1981; Charles B. Benenson Collection, Greenwich, Conn, by 1981–2004; Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Conn.


Susan Vogel, African Aesthetics: The Carlo Monzino Collection (New York: Museum for African Art, 1986), 175, fig. 127.

“Acquisitions, July 1, 2005–June 30, 2006,” Yale University Art Gallery Bulletin (2006): 222, 227, ill.

Frederick John Lamp, Amanda Maples, and Laura M. Smalligan, Accumulating Histories: African Art from the Charles B. Benenson Collection at the Yale University Art Gallery (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 2012), 159, ill.

Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of such records is ongoing.