A rare Songo ceremonial scepter, Angola
the domed finial finely incised with panels of geometric design, surmounted by the figure of a trader, carved with pointed coiffure, angular features, with pronounced shoulder blades, the bent arms with hands resting on the stomach, mounted on an oxen, the beast's feet resting on two birds, flanked by two smaller human figures enclosed within rectangular panels, dark patina, slight restoration.
Collected in the late 19th century by Capitao Passos who was sent to pacify the tribes of Planalto de Moxico, central Angola.
Bonhams, London, July 20, 2005, Lot 190
Literature and References:
For a discussion of the symbolic significance of such scepters see Marie-Louise Bastin, Sculpture Angolaise Memorial de Cultures, Lisbon 1994. Figures shown mounted on oxen represent white or mulatto traders and as such are associated with commercial prosperity. The accompanying birds are associated with fertility while the smaller enclosed figures promote successful hunting. Compare a staff with almost identical image: Ernesto Veiga de Oliveira, Escultura Africana em Portugal, Lisbon, 1985, fig. 133.
Robbins and Nooter 1989: 393, figure 1000
Jordán 1998: figure 134