Pedi or Ntwana Figurative Staff - South Africa

This very rare and early figural staff belongs to the notable tradition of finely crafted prestige staffs, sticks, and clubs that proliferated across southern Africa. Woodworkers in the region were fond of adorning such objects with human heads and figures, animal likenesses, and inanimate objects from daily life, sometimes combining them in imaginative compositions. This staff features a prominent female figure with a large head, animated expression, and arms held akimbo. The styles of both the coiffure and back apron attribute this staff to the Pedi or Ntwana people.

Pokerwork has been used to mark out the finer details of the figure’s face and digits, and to darken the coiffure and garb. The figure’s ensemble consists of a decorative collar and a two-paneled skirt, the back panel showing a swallowtail design. Below the figure, a speckled snake twines gracefully up the shaft.

19th century
Wood, pokerwork
H: 28 in

Private collection, UK

Kevin Conru, Brussels

Nicholas Maritz, South Africa

Publication history:

Maritz, Nicholas & Monique Maritz, Relics of War: A Collection of 19th Century Artifacts from

British South Africa and Southern Rhodesia, 2008

Item Number:
Click To Enlarge

Keep In Touch

Stay up to date on new acquisitions, collections, updates, and more.
Thank you, we'll be in touch.
Apologies—something went wrong. Please try again.