Zulu or Mpondo people, South Africa
This superb status stick with coiling snake comes from the Zulu or Mpondo people of South Africa.
Often described as "Zulu" or "Tsonga", this type of long stick (also described as "healer stick" because of the snake - probably a green snake -, a symbol associated with many beliefs in southern African cosmologies) would originate from the Mpondo people who live just south of Zululand in the current Eastern Cape Province of South Africa (Gary Van Wyk personal communication. See a similar stick collected in 1870s in "Annals of the South African Museum" vol. 70 part 3, May 1981) For examples of long black staffs with coiling snakes formally attributed to the Zulu, see "Zulu tresures" (KwaZulu Cultural Museum and the Local History Museum, 1996, objects W13/14/15)
The stick is made of a very tight grain, dark brown to black, wood. It shows a silky patina from use and, it appears, from rubbing with fat.
Composed of four different sections, the handle is surmounted by a superb flatten, pointed, ball. The double coil section is composed like a worm screw and I have noticed that every single person with this stick in hand instinctively activates the movement of the screw, going down through the grooves with their fingers, making the stick magically turning on itself. The middle section responds to the handle section and is delimitated by two "rings". Finally, the lower section, constituting half the total length of the stick, is composed of one single coiling snake going all the way down and up again the stick.
This superb work come from an English private collection, I date it to the 19th Century and got it monted on a custom metal base by Romain Laforêt.
H: 148 cm (58 1/4 inches)
Price : 1800 Euros enquiry