|Figure 1 Mvuala (staff handle). Angola/Democratic Republic|
of Congo, Solongo. 19th or 20th century CE. Ivory, height 41/4"
(11 cm). Private Collection, Brussels
The staff appears to be a woman because of fertility. The staff is passed from one generation to the next and new generations would not be produced if it weren't for women. Central Africa cares vastly about fertility and appreciates their women and their ability to bestow children. The figure on top of the staff has its hands resting on its thighs to represent obedience. It's texture is smooth in order to capture the softness of human flesh. Also, the head is turned over the shoulder to signify watchfulness. These attributions are claimed by the staff's new owner.
Kampen O'Riley, Michael. "Africa. In Art Beyond the West, 245. 2nd ed.
Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2006
The image is from the book described above.