Two squatting figures decorate the finials; one is elderly, bearded, and scarified, while the other is fresh-faced and young. At the lower left rung, two men carry a slit drum; between the caryatid figures supporting the chair’s front legs appear three men; the central splat has incised diagonal patterns called fuliko. At the center, what is possibly a pointy-nosed European’s face replaces the more habitual chikungu masker.
Artist Unknown, African, Chokwe Peoples Angola
Inspired by late 17th century Portuguese prototypes called cadeira de sola, this chair exemplifies the cross-cultural hybridization readily found in African art. Above all, chairs like this represent the authority and supreme spiritual power of its owners: chiefs, elders, diviners, or circumcision specialists. When presiding over local disputes, dignitaries leaned on citwamo ca mungu while sitting on animal hides.
Gift of Robert B. Jacobs
Wednesday, March 21, 2018