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Between and Mortarboard

UMMA Object Specific Fields

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Accession Number



Object Creation Date
circa 1950

Medium & Support

46 7/16 in x 1 9/16 in x 1 9/16 in (118 cm x 4 cm x 4 cm)

Credit Line
Gift of Margaret H. and Albert J. Coudron

Subject matter
Zulu carvers, like other African artists, have long adapted their skills to serve different markets-- in this case, that of European buyers and of local dignitaries. The influx of British soldiers into the region following the Anglo-Boer and Southern African Wars of the late 19th century seems to have stimulated the production of staffs (and other carvings) originally intended for local consumption by either chiefs or, somewhat later on, wealthy individuals. The spiralling snake motif, in particular, is very common among many southern African peoples and has long been popular with colonial officers collecting souvenirs from the places where they were stationed. The varied relations between carvers of different backgrounds, adapting and inventing new styles, and a heterogeneous group of African and European buyers makes the attribution of objects to a single ethnic group problematic.

Physical Description
Slightly curved staff, topped by two snakes spiraling around each other, followed by an open-worked carving of three smaller "pillars" set between ornamental carved elements above and below. On the lower half of the staff are a series of carved, protruding knobs distributed around all sides of the shaft between carved ornamental bands.

Primary Object Classification
Costume and Costume Accessories

Primary Object Type

Additional Object Classification(s)
Ritual Object

Collection Area

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staffs (walking sticks)

& Author Notes

Web Use Permitted