Janus heads with elaborate headgear top a staff with a long, thin shaft and broader hourglass-shaped sections with a stylized human head in the middle of each one. The staff is covered with carved geometrical patterns of triangles, lozenges and lines, and ends in a metal-coiled tip at the bottom; it is heavy and has a shiny black patina.
Luba staffs are like maps or historic documents that tell the story of the genealogy of a particular leader, the history of his lineage and its relations to the precolonial Luba kingdom. No two staffs are the same, because no two chiefs or locations share the exact same history. The Janus heads on a staff of office like this one represent the twin spirits of Luba kingship, Mpanga and Banze. The long, thin shaft of the staff represents the wilderness, while the two broad sections indicate specific "dibulu," or administrative royal centers, with the heads pointing to particular locales of rich natural resources (and to the earth spirits guarding such wealth). As a whole, the staff records the journey from the royal center at the top to the local leader's own village at the bottom.
A group of men wage battle against each other in a rocky landscape. Some of the men wear ancient Roman armor while others are only partially clothed. The combatants wield spears and swords, and some are on horseback. The mounted soldier in the center of the scene holds a large banner. A burning city is visible in the distance.
Agostino Musi captures the chaos of battle through the dense masses of men and horses locked in struggle within a harsh, rocky landscape. The scene ostensibly represents a battle between the Romans under the command of Scipio and the Carthaginians from north Africa during the Second Punic War (218 to 201 BCE), but does not depict any specific military engagement.
Two carved female figures, holding one arm over each other's back, an the other resting on the stomach decorated with lozenge motifs and scarification patterns; one figure is wearing a rope around the middle. A curving shaft supports the figures, broadening from the metal tip at the bottom into two bulging forms, divided by a dark black line through the middle, and covered in a carved pattern of triangles and lines on both front and back. The staff is heavy, with a nice shiny patina.
In precolonial times, Luba staffs were carried by kings and other dignitaries and served as both prestige items and receptacles for sacred power. Moreover, certain iconographic features allow the staffs to be read as carved maps, sharing an iconography with the Luba memory boards (called "lukasa"). The paired female figures commonly found atop Luba staffs represent the female founders of specific royal lines, or the king himself. The broad sections of the staff, with incised patterns evoking scarification pattterns, refer to the land itself, and to specific geographic features such as mountains or rivers, personified as spirits.
This black and white drawing depicts an outdoor classical scene. In the center of the composition a nude male figure donning an ornate helmet and brandishing a sword drags a lifeless classically draped figure before an altar on the left on top of which rests armor, a helmet and drapery. Behind this altar is positioned another draped male figure. A fully draped figure points toward two mourning female figures in the right midground. The paper is squared for transfer.
Nude and classically draped figures in an outdoor setting before an altar. Possibly representing Achilles and Hector.
This small, flat metal piece has a quartrefoil shape. Two holes in the middle. Flame-like incision all over the piece. Silver is applied around the center hole.
Tsuba (sword guard) is inserted between a sword handle and blade to protect hands from sharp blades. The center hole is where the sword is placed. The smaller hole is to insert kozuka, an ornamental stick. This particlar tsuba has incised, overall frame design.
A slightly curved staff, topped by a long, narrow handle, placed atop a carved human head, with simple hairdo and facial feautures. The shaft is covered by a snake coiling upward from the lower end of the staff.
This carved "mihango" staff is topped by a human head, like many similar staffs produced in the southwestern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (a contact region of Pende, Lunda, and Chokwe peoples). The representation of a snake on the staff is shared with many other ethnic groups in this region, and may refer to the positive attributes of leadership. These staffs were used by orators, or speakers, who acted as defense lawyers for the members of their lineage; they were owned by particular lineages or sublineages. When the orator for a particular lineage died, the staff would temporarily be placed in the granary of a young woman, and would then be transferred to the newly chosed speaker in an elaborate ritual. The staffs are also said to have been fashioned with power substances inside them, but there is no evidence of that on this particular staff. Because of this link between orators' staffs and spiritual powers, Catholic missionaries and Pende teachers in the 1940s and 50s reinterpreted the staffs as "fetishes" and threw them in the Kwilu River.
Inscribed in the image, in a tablet held by old woman in upper center, D H, flanking a pinecone; l.l., 97; verso, inscribed in black ink, u.l. corner, M[?] nit/ 7-87; in graphite, u.c., 30; l.l. corner, / [?] D.; BVIII. 485.47/ 64.9.7; in l.c., fr Sir T. Lawrences Coll.
Collector's marks: stamped in black ink, in the image, l.l.: T.L, surrounded by a double oval [monogram of Sir Thomas Lawrence, Lugt 2446]; verso, l.l., stamped in black ink, CDG, entwined [monogram of Dr. C.D. Ginsburg, Lugt 1145] Watermark: indecipherable
This black and white print depicts an animated and detailed scene of nude figures and mythical beasts on the surface of the sea.Two men, with seaweed hair and riding half horse/half fish creatures, strike out at each other. A man and a woman ride a beast with a scaly body and the head of a fierce dog. In the background, a man holding a trident stands with his back to the viewer. Action and motion are expressed with billowing drapery, flowing hair and moving waves. The wide mouthed expressions of the figures and animals suggest yelling and noise in this chaotic scene. Among the many details depicted by the artist is a plaque held by the woman that has his initials.
Daniel Hopfer was a 16th c. German etcher who was first trained as an armor maker and used thin iron plates for his prints - a process he invented. This print depicts one part of a larger composition by the sixteenth-century Northern Italian painter Andrea Mantegna (1430/31–1506), itself based on the relief (shallow) carving decorating a Roman sarcophagus. Mantegna frequently made reference to Roman relief sculpture in his work and his designs in turn inspired the work of engravers, whose prints provided a wider dissemination of his art. This image, in which nude figures astride fantastical creatures dominate, has been interpreted as an allegory on the theme of envy. This impression once belonged to the British painter Sir Thomas Lawrence (1769–1830), whose collector’s mark is visible at the lower left corner.