Staff of Office

probably 1930–1950

African Art

On view, 1st floor, African Art

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.


Wood, copper, and aluminum


44 7/8 × 4 1/2 × 3 1/8 in. (114 × 11.5 × 8 cm)

Credit Line

Charles B. Benenson, B.A. 1933, Collection

Accession Number



20th century


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 records is ongoing.



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.
  • 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.
  • "Acquisitions, July 1, 2005–June 30, 2006," Yale University Art Gallery Bulletin (2006): 222, 227, ill.
  • Susan Vogel, African Aesthetics: The Carlo Monzino Collection (New York: Museum for African Art, 1986), 175, fig. 127.
Object copyright
Additional information

Object/Work type

staffs (walking sticks)



Technical metadata and APIs


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