There are at least three different types of staffs, varying in degrees of importance, carried by Luba chiefs and high-ranking officials.
The epic of Luba origins (in which Mbidi Kiluwe, the cultural hero who brought royal ideology to the Luba kingdom, presents a royal staff to his son Kalala Ilunga) serves as the inspiration for kibango. It is said that the original staff has been passed down from generation to generation and is now preserved in the royal treasury at the court of Kabongo. It is clear that the Luba epic remains a central point of reference to Luba society. Staffs as symbols indicative of authority are an idea widely held.
Luba kibango staffs depict a certain narrative specific to the owner’s family history. For this reason, no two kibango staffs are identical of the several hundred known. Kibango staffs take on a graphic format with the intention to convey the owner’s family history, encode genealogies or chiefdoms or explain certain lineages. The pictorial nature of many kibangos may also serve the owner as a memory aid. Each staff has a precise meaning that can be provided only by the original owner of the staff and/or his progeny and the spirit medium who consecrates the staff.
Like stools, Luba staffs are conceptually complex. However, they are more diverse in iconography, and their ownership, more democratic. Unlike caryatid stools, Luba staffs aren’t restricted to the highest ranking members of political offices. Instead, Luba staffs may belong to a greater range of people—territorial chiefs, titleholders, Mbudye members and diviners. High-level officeholders who carry staffs use them at public proceedings to both honour their ancestors and guide their descendants, teaching them about their relationship to the Luba kingship. Kibango staffs are also used during the investiture of a new territory's king—his sister or wife plants the staff in the ground to the right side of the king. He then grasps the staff after which he swears his oath of office. In addition, kibango staffs were said to be carried into battle and "stuck in the ground among the slain enemy as signs of bloody victory."