Royal Ceremonial Staff

Fon People, Dahomey

The legends of the Dahomey people tell of the origin of the staff or récade as a ceremonial object; when working in the fields they were attacked by a rival tribe but unperturbed, they removed the blades from their hoes and did battle with the resulting clubs and routed the enemy. In celebration of this victory the staff was adopted by the chiefs as a symbol of power and prestige and underwent many changes to incorporate the features we see here; the head has an eye to each side and a protruding tongue as well as a mane curving over the head and reaching down the shaft. Such was the importance of these staffs that when carried by a messenger they could stand in the place of the king and all would bow down before it as if he were there in person.

Museum Collections:
Metropolitan Museum, New York, U.S
British Museum, London, U.K

African Arms and Armour by Christopher Spring pub. British Museum Press 1993

1730 / 3034
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