Kuna/Cuna or Embera Indian healing staff - "Nuchu", Sab Blas Islands Panama
wood, metal, pigment
20" tall
Early 20th Century, definite signs of age and use, mounted on a custom stand.
ex Xanadu Gallery in San Francisco

Staffs such as this were used to combat bonigana, a spiritual being that causes illness. As part of the healing process, the staffs
served as intermediaries between the real and spiritual worlds.

This piece has particularly delicately carved features with some slight damage to the nose. A metal ring encircles the forehead.

Recommended reading: Cuna Indian Art: The Culture and Craft of Panama's San Blas Islanders by Clyde E. Keeler

For additional detail, click on any photo below to see the higher resolution version of the image.