Venda or Shangaan Prestige Staff – South Africa

Evincing colonial influences, the meticulously rendered boot and hand present on this highly rare staff depict the shoes and gloves of nineteenth-century England. Leather goods were considered prestige objects in South Africa during that period, and here a shoe takes pride of place as the finial. This unusual piece expresses all the refined hallmarks of southern African woodworking techniques, but deviates from more classic forms not only in its combined choice of motifs but also the transitions from round to square in its shaft.


Late 19th or early 20th century
37” l
Provenance: Ernest Ohly; Egon Guenther; Sotheby’s; Manuel Jordan, USA
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