Art and Centralized Power

By Mary Nooter Roberts
University of California, Los Angeles

Democratic Republic of the CongoLuba peoples

Chief’s staff

Wood, metal

H. 104 cm (41")

Seattle Art Museum, Gift of Katherine White and the Boeing Company, 81.17.874

Luba art reflects the radiating epicenters of power during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries when Luba regalia, such as caryatid thrones, gained widespread influence and were emulated by neighboring groups seeking to participate in the aura of Luba kingship and to validate their claims to royal affiliation.

Luba village chief and wife displaying staff of office, Katanga Province, Democratic Republic of the Congo, 1989. Photo by Mary Nooter Roberts.