Most seats in sub-Saharan Africa are low stools with round or rectangular tops, carved from a single block of wood. As early as the sixteenth century, Portuguese traders and explorers introduced chairs with backs, leather seats, and decorative brass tacks, giving them as presents to chiefs, who used them as thrones. Chokwe artists soon began to produce similar chairs, adapting the style to preexisting sculptural conventions. Here, a cikungu mask, a symbol of chieftaincy, is represented on the back of the chair. Figures on the rungs and splats depict scenes of daily and ceremonial life.
- Culture: Chokwe
- Medium: Copper alloy, animal hide, wood
- Geographical Locations:
- Dates: 19th century
- Dimensions: 26 3/4 x 12 x 15 1/2 in. (67.9 x 30.5 x 39.4 cm) (show scale)
- Collections:Arts of Africa
- Museum Location: This item is on view in South Gallery, 1st Floor
- Accession Number: 22.187
- Credit Line: Museum Expedition 1922, Robert B. Woodward Memorial Fund
- Rights Statement: Creative Commons-BY
- Caption: Chokwe. Chief's Chair, 19th century. Copper alloy, animal hide, wood, 26 3/4 x 12 x 15 1/2 in. (67.9 x 30.5 x 39.4 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Museum Expedition 1922, Robert B. Woodward Memorial Fund, 22.187. Creative Commons-BY
- Catalogue Description: European-style chair with two splats, rungs, and a leather-covered seat, decorated with figural and animal carvings and brass tacks. Carved geometric, designs on front and back of splats create background for a Chihongo mask, rows of figures, a snake, the backs of birds, and two figures with Cikunza masks. Figures representing daily and ceremonial life (e.g. man on the back of a cow, musician, etc.) decorate the rungs and front legs of the chair. The front figure between the legs on the proper right panel is lost. The lower left figure on the front of the seat back has losses on both feet. On the hide seat, there is a loss on the front of the proper left edge. On the rear and at the center and proper left top edges of the seat back, the surface is abraded. There are some tacks missing.
- Record Completeness: Best (91%)