A hardwood (Alstonia spp.) and leather ‘Chokwe’ throne chair with brass  nails    Angola, Chokwe people, early 20th century

A hardwood (Alstonia spp.) and leather ‘Chokwe’ throne chair with brass  nails

 

Angola, Chokwe people, early 20th century

H. 55.5 x W. 35 x D. 31.5 cm

The structural design of this chair is clearly derived from European/Iberian models. In the 16th and 17th centuries, European chairs of Renaissance style and shape had already been brought deep into Africa. They were there elevated to the rank of ‘chief’s thrones’ through the addition of local figural and decorative details. The present chair has a kneeling male and female on top of the back uprights, and again kneeling figures carved in the front legs. In the middle of the top rail is an impressive chief’s mask and on the rails below the seat a scene of childbirth, an erotic scene,

a scene of what seems to be a circumcision, and another which looks like food making.
Usually, these chairs are status symbols for village chiefs to express their power and authority. The present rather small chair may have been made for an important woman, or perhaps for a woman after a successful childbirth.

A hardwood (Alstonia spp.) and leather ‘Chokwe’ throne chair with brass  nails    Angola, Chokwe people, early 20th century
hardwood (Alstonia spp.) and leather ‘Chokwe’ throne chair with brass nails
hardwood (Alstonia spp.) and leather ‘Chokwe’ throne chair with brass nails