Another interesting find in the next Native auction in Brussels: a beautiful Lwena staff from Angola. Such staffs were associated with the power and authority vested in chiefs. Staffs like this one are said to have represented female ancestors whose status as fulfilled women was signaled by, on the one hand, their elaborate coiffures, and, on the other, their body scarifications. Scarifications identified mature women as having undergone various forms of female initiation.
In their object description, Native refers to a Lwena lance sold by Sotheby’s in 2012 (for € 21K):
which is most likely from the same hand. Three other staffs from this artist are known: one in a Belgian private collection (YVRA 0026700), one in a British private collection (YVRA 0097335) and a last in the Terence J. Pethica collection (UK), published in The Art of Southern Africa. The Terence Pethica Collection (p. 85, #29). More research will probably reveal additional works from this master carver, which we for now will call “The Lwena master of the center parting coiffure”.
UPDATE: the research on this artist continues here: A Chokwe carver named Itangui Itangui.