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Three Legged Stool

Arts of Africa

ART OF PRESENTING GENDER

Art can play a role in articulating and enacting gender identities, both openly and more subtly.

This stool and figure display their respectively male and female bodily sexual characteristics quite directly. The stool would have been used by a Lobi man of high status, with its phallic “foot” protruding to convey his virility and authority. The figure, dedicated to the Yoruba cult of Shango, the orisha (god) of thunder, emphasizes female characteristics of breasts and hairdo. In addition, the bowl held by the figure has sexual and reproductive associations.

The two headrests are everyday objects with the same function, though their differing forms are based on the gender of the user. The blocklike form of the man’s headrest contrasts with the more slender form of the woman’s. Even everyday objects such as these can subtly reinforce a strict, binary concept of gender. In addition to cradling the head and protecting often elaborate coiffures during sleep, headrests also serve as emblems of status.
CULTURE Lobi
MEDIUM Wood
DATES late 19th-early 20th century
DIMENSIONS 11 x 6 x 23 7/8 in. (28.0 x 60.5 x 15.0 cm)  (show scale)
COLLECTIONS Arts of Africa
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
ACCESSION NUMBER 74.175
CREDIT LINE Purchased with funds given by David Shaw King and Carll H. de Silver Fund
RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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CAPTION Sikire Kambire (Lobi, 1896-1963). Three Legged Stool, late 19th-early 20th century. Wood, 11 x 6 x 23 7/8 in. (28.0 x 60.5 x 15.0 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Purchased with funds given by David Shaw King and Carll H. de Silver Fund, 74.175. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 74.175_SL3.jpg)
IMAGE overall, 74.175_SL3.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2014
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Sikire Kambire (Lobi, 1896-1963). <em>Three Legged Stool</em>, late 19th-early 20th century. Wood, 11 x 6 x 23 7/8 in. (28.0 x 60.5 x 15.0 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Purchased with funds given by David Shaw King and Carll H. de Silver Fund, 74.175. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 74.175_SL3.jpg)