Staff or Scepter
Wood, pigments, metal
The figure on this short staff or scepter is that of a shrine priest dressed in the traditional short raffia fiber kilt. He raises a protective shrine sword in his right hand and holds a large sacrificial egg in the left. On top of his head, two birds of unknown but perhaps proverbial meaning sit on a small platform. Among the ornaments worn around his neck is the image of a padlock, which may refer to power and secrecy. The horned shape beneath his feet is perhaps a representation of a sacrificial animal head. Both sides of the squared base bear a relief-carved inscription in the Fante dialect of Twi, the Akan language of Ghana; it mentions a priest and may be a proverb.
There is much evidence of age and use. The figure has probably been repainted, and many parts have been mended locally with metal staples, as is especially clear on the wrists and on the platform supporting the two birds. In addition, a wire now connects both arms, as if to strengthen them. A metal shoe protects the bottom of the staff, which may once have been socketed into an additional piece, making the existing carving the head of a figurative staff in keeping with more common Fante and Asante use, rather than the scepter it now appears to be.
The Robert V. Berg Collection
Height: 22 ½ inches
Estimate: $2,000 - $3,000.
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