This staff illustrates how the Luba and the Songye are closely related cultures that often borrowed ideas from one another. The facial features of the heads identify this staff as Songye, but both of these cultures made staffs with what are known as Janus images. The name Janus derives from its resemblance to the Roman deity that is depicted with two connected heads, each facing in opposite directions, looking both to the past and to the future. This staff is unusual in that it not only has one set of back-to-back heads in the middle of the staff, but also a set of four heads at the top of the staff, each facing a different direction.
Like Luba staffs, Songye staffs incorporate geometric designs and marks that likely symbolize the history of a specific ruler and that ruler’s time in office. Also like Luba staffs, this staff may have been consulted if the history or lineage of the owner was in question. Researched by Jordan Seyer
For more information, you may contact the researcher(s) noted in the title of this exhibit entry, or Dr. Billie Follensbee, the professor of the course, at BillieFollensbee@MissouriState.edu