Roughly carved in softwood, a sceptre in the form of a woman kneeling in an act of supplication carrying a pot of water on her head. This wasn’t produced for domestic use but as a trade item in 19th century Kongo.

A Kongo chief’s sceptre/ staff, possibly intended for a chief associated with missionaries, although the Roman Catholic church had important influence on the Kongo nobility during the early contact period.

The Kongo chief’s staff (mvwala) was an instrument of memory and communication. Chief’s powers derive from their mediation between the mirrored worlds of the living and the dead, which, when proper relations are maintained allows healthy cohesion of the clan. Whoever holds such a position must therefore be of exemplary character.

Object Summary

Accession Loan No.
Collection Class
Religion and magic
Collection Area Region
Central Africa
wood | | | |
Common Name
Simple Name
Inscription Transcription
diamond-shaped motifs on woman’s body - possibly scarification markings
Production Town

Production Country
Production Person Initials

Production Person Surname

Production Year Low

Production Year High

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sceptre/staff (mvwala)