late 1800s–early 1900s
Location: not on view
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Did You Know?

Scepters often represent the chief sitting atop a bound prisoner or attribute to a violent death.


Used by male chiefs, ivory scepters were symbols of status indicating worldly authority and supernatural influence. The use of ivory implies that the chief has the fatal power of an elephant. The figurine shows a chief enthroned on the bound body of a criminal destined for such a death. A medicine package would have been enclosed within the container extending from the figure’s head, bestowing supernatural powers.


late 1800s–early 1900s

Africa, Central Africa, Democratic Republic of Congo (most likely), Cabinda, or Republic of Congo, probably Kongo-style (Yombe sub-group) carver

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