Shangaan Prestige Stick with Hand Finial – South Africa

This artfully carved hardwood stick features a four-fingered claw grasping an egg, symbolizing the fragile and somewhat mysterious nature of life. Graced with a dark patina, the shaft is wrapped with three wide bands of dense brass wirework, reinforcing the grip.

The vendor's father, who farmed in the Limpopo district of South Africa, was given this piece by an elderly farmhand. It lost part of its shaft after being trampled by a horse, and was converted into a horse whip by the addition of a hide hand grip. A similar staff, possibly by the same hand, is in the collection of the Johannesburg Art Gallery. This piece perfectly embodies the charming blend of understated sophistication and playfulness so unique to the wood carvers of South Africa.

Late 19th or early 20th century
24" l
Wood, brass wire, hide
Provenance: Ex private South Africa collection
#511
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