Prestige Seat

Chokwe peoples, Angola

Wood

Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Richard Butterfield

9.75 x 11.75 x 9.75 in

In many African kingdoms and chieftaincies, seating privileges indicate status and position, and stools often serve both as literal and metaphorical seats of power. In each culture, stools are invested with particular cosmological significance. Among Chokwe peoples, some prestige stools are supported by caryatids, in this case a female figure surrounded by smaller figures. Like neighbouring Luba, the female figures supporting Chokwe stools probably are not portraits of specific women, but rather serve as reminders of the important place of women in Chokwe history and society. While the smaller figures resemble children, they are probably mahamba (protective spirits), that incarnate the ancestral wisdom and clairvoyance.

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