In their informative catalogue on the Luba (1996, pp.161-175) Mary Roberts and Allen Roberts explain that the Luba staffs record details of family history, migrations and genealogy, the location of tutelary spirits and natural resources, as well as being symbols of authority. Staffs are among the regalia said to have been introduced by Mbidi Kiluwe and his son, Kalala Ilungs, the culture heroes who introduced sacred rule to the Luba, and have been distributed to female spirit medium as well as chiefs and headmen. Such holders of high office, who might also be women, carry staffs to public meetings and they are also used in war. Interpretations of the decorative elements have probably been adapted over centuries to absorb modern ideas and circumstances.
The female figures probably represent founders of specific royal lines, but could also be spirit mediums. The broad sections of the staffs are called dibulu and symbolize the administrative center in every royal capital, and the horns on the present example might signify that it has curative powers because the Luba used small antelope horns to hold magical medicines. The shafts, both unadorned or copper covered, represent uninhabited savannahs and thus signify the roads between the centers. The metal point symbolizes both material wealth and the strength of the chiefdom.
The gesture of the female hands to breasts was explained to Mary Nooter by a sub-chief of Kinkondja thus: "hidden within a woman's breasts are the bizila, or royal prohibitions, of which certain women are the ultimate guardians". The hairstyles of the figures on the present staff are found in the Shankadi region of the Luba.