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Chair (tsem-pai-yau-nai)

Arts of the Americas

On View: Luce Visible Storage and Study Center, 5th Floor
MEDIUM Wood, stain, iron nails
DATES ca. 1850
DIMENSIONS 22 1/2 x 14 1/2 x 13 1/4in. (57.2 x 36.8 x 33.7cm) Other: 22 1/2 x 14 1/2 x 13 1/4in. (57.2 x 36.8 x 33.7cm)  (show scale)
COLLECTIONS Arts of the Americas
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is on view in Luce Visible Storage and Study Center, 5th Floor
ACCESSION NUMBER 04.297.5130
CREDIT LINE Museum Expedition 1904, Museum Collection Fund
RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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CAPTION She-we-na (Zuni Pueblo) (Native American). Chair (tsem-pai-yau-nai), ca. 1850. Wood, stain, iron nails, 22 1/2 x 14 1/2 x 13 1/4in. (57.2 x 36.8 x 33.7cm). Brooklyn Museum, Museum Expedition 1904, Museum Collection Fund, 04.297.5130. Creative Commons-BY
IMAGE 3/4 front right, right, 04.297.5130_threequarter_right_PS2.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2009
"CUR" at the beginning of an image file name means that the image was created by a curatorial staff member. These study images may be digital point-and-shoot photographs, when we don\'t yet have high-quality studio photography, or they may be scans of older negatives, slides, or photographic prints, providing historical documentation of the object.
CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Stewart Culin collected this side chair in Zuni Pueblo in 1904, calling it an ÔÇťAncient kneeling chair." The chair is pieced together from 11 planks and 4 square posts. Its ornamentation is limited to horizontal grooves and soft scalloping on the lower rails. The crest rail displays a series of peaks along its upper edge, apparently cut across previously inscribed horizontal lines. Below the lines is a series of irregularly, squarish gouge holes. The rear stiles' finials are stepped, and their top set-back shows a rough area where a segment may have broken off. The front stiles show grooving and exposed top ends that may have been covered by a forward seat plank. Nails secure the seat planks to the frame, but rails and stiles are joined with open mortise-and-tendon joints. Although Culin interpreted the stepped finials as Indian cloud forms In Spain, Islamic, North African stepped designs were also common forms. Other Hispanic traits include the mortis-and-joint construction and rectangular forming of its members and the use of staining. It has been suggested that it also demonstrates European proportions: about 2/3 vara by 1/2 vara (Spanish yard). If the finials had not broken off it would resemble the scrolled rear stiles of modest Spanish renaissance chairs. Scholar Ramon Gutierrez raises questions regarding its meaning to Pueblo culture. He argues that Franciscans studied and manipulated Pueblo society to establish Christian authority and values and therefore the chair may represent an effort to impose Catholic-Spanish culture on the part of an unwilling native maker. If "always offered" to a guest of Euro-culture the chair may have meant respect for or control of that visitor, depending on the social, political, and gender status of both host and guest within Pueblo culture in the 1800s.
RECORD COMPLETENESS Good (78%)
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