AN IVORY-AND-BONE-INLAID AFRICAN EBONY 'LAMU' CHAIR (KITA CHAENZI - CHAIR OF POWER)


Lamu/Zanzibar/Mombasa, 17th/18th century


The chair comprising of rectangular elements, with lavish inlaid back splat, the openings in the back splat, arm rests and seating stringed with cord.

H. 129 x W. 77 x D. 52.5 cm


Note:

Chairs with such angular elements and raised footrests were adapted in as early as the 17th century, possibly from European/Iberian models, to suit courtly uses and tastes in East Africa and India. Jan Veenendaal discusses the origins of this type of chair as being made in Egypt, East Africa and as far as India from as early as the 17th century and derived from an Iberian model, introduced by the Portuguese (Furniture from Indonesia, Sri Lanka and India during the Dutch period, p. 31). On the other hand Amin Jaffer in his discussion of the origin of this chair, suggests that the “Lamu” chair with the raised footrest, evolved from an Indian model. A late 17th century watercolour of Shah Jahan with his sons shows them seated on a similar chair (see: Furniture from British India and Ceylon, by Amin Jaffer, fig. 41). The chair is named after the small island of Lamu, near Zanzibar off the East African coast, where many presumably were made.

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