Many of ancient Songye traditions have survived, among them the use of staffs as emblems of leadership. Chief's staffs were both prestige items and receptacles for sacral power. Sanctified by ritual specialists, they took on supernatural qualities and were said to have healing power. A Songye staff is like an enlarged detail of a map, for a staff tells the story of an individual family, lineage, or chiefdom. The map is read vertically, from top to bottom. As one progresses down the staff, it is as if one were journeying across the Songye landscape, through the uninhabited savanna represented by the plain, unadorned staff.
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