Part of a chief’s regalia and would have been present in royal ceremonies including investiture.
Instead of being used as an actual tool or weapon, this exquisite adze would have been worn over the shoulder of a Hemba chief as a show of prestige.
The finely detailed head featured at the end of the adze represents a deceased female ancestor whose spirit not only guarantees the power of the chief but also confers protection to members of his community. The adze legitimatizes the chief’s authoritative position and revered status as well as serves as a symbolic reminder, both to himself and his people, of his tremendous social responsibility.
Length: 14 ¾”
Width: 7 ⅞”
Depth: 2 ½”
Ex. Dr. and Mrs. Frederick Mebel, New York, Ex. Scott Rodolitz, Ex. Christopher and Genevieve McConnell collection