Chokwe Scepter, Angola
height 15 1/2in (39.4cm)
Julius Carlebach, New York
American Private Collection, acquired from the above ca. 1960s
Thence by descent
"Moxico" style, very similar to an example in the Berlin Museum fur Volkerunde that was acquired by the Museum from Alexander Von Homeyer in 1876 (listed under Yale-Van Rijn Archive, number 515.4/3), which was published in 1989 Ratzel, Friedrich, The History of Mankind, Vol III, publication page f.100, plate f,13. The Archive also says that the scepter has been published five times between 1885 and 1908.
According to Koloss, "Chokwe chiefs are descended from the Lunda nobles who imposed their system of rulership over the Chokwe in the seventeenth century. Among their insignia of office are carved wooden staffs depicting a past chief (Miller 1969: 14). In this renowned example from Berlin, the chief's broad, fleshy face is framed by an elaborate headdress and an ornately shaped panel covered with incised designs. the headdress is of a type worn only by great chiefs; versions are known in beaten copper and in cloth-covered basketry (Bastin 1982:77). The tiny antelope horns depicted on the back of the headdress held magical ingredients and indicated the importance of occult knowledge to the chief's power." (Koloss, 1990: p. 56)