As within all African art, stools or chairs are no exception regarded as one of the most important items of tribal use. Usually carved from a single piece of wood, whether a simple design used for everyday activities such as milking cows, goats, social gatherings or communal meetings of the elders to discuss matters of importance to the more elaborate and intricate configurations, adorned with cowrie shells and or intricate designs of small coloured glass beads for the grand, ceremonial occasions and traditional rituals of their tribal beliefs. The more elaborate stools, seats and chairs belong to the Chief or King and he would be only person who would have the right to sit on them.
A Chief or King within any tribe would have a stool commissioned that could incorporate many different forms, the depiction of animals in the form of leopards, elephants, crocodiles, buffalo, and people to name a few. All of the animals are chosen as a symbol of the powers and strength they hold and these characteristics are held with great regard and respect. Taking many weeks to not only carve and then to adorn, either with the use of pigment, cowrie shells or intricate patterned bead work, each and every tribe has its own unique style of carving and decoration that not only is typical to their tribe but that also reflects and shows and makes a statement of wealth, strength and traditional culture.
Headrests are known from a few places in the world, they are most prevalent and well-known from traditional African cultures, as a traditional African means of protecting intricate hair styles while
Among the Luba people the headrest serves as a cool, hard but not uncomfortable pillow. They are also used to protect the most elaborate hairstyles/coiffure of women and men while they sleep.
That said the cute zoomorphic head is very captivating and endearing. This particular style of Senufo stool is that of royalty and specifically for the queen to sit on. Being used when sitting with the villagers during meetings.
A lot of time and care having been taken to decorate the stem of this Gurage headrest being shown not only by the intricate design but also by the colouring in both an orange and red pigment highlighting its fascinating design.
Nupe stools are characterized by fine geometric carved designs upon the seat. They may be round or oval or rounded rectangles. The round ones often have 6-8 legs, each of which tapers down to the end.
A beautiful and aged Senufo Stool. Its four legs are round peg style and show signs of plenty of use down to the fact each of the ends of the legs have been worn away were the stool would have been placed repeatedly in the ground
A lovely simply styled Kamba Stool. This endearing three legged stool is carved from just one piece of wood, its three legs and dish shaped seat giving this stool from the Kamba tribe of Kenya its charming appearance
Associated with sleep and dreams, headrests absorbed dark powers. A significant number of very old headrests have been found in Dogon country in Mali.
The markings (carved incisions) all around the stool are very typical to this form of Dogon stool. There are a few chips and scuffs but this can only be expected as these are used on a daily basis.
This particular Dogon stool has seen plenty of use in its lifetime, on the top is encrustation in parts and worn in well, where the bottom has had a fair bit of insect invasion which is not present now. this is estimated to be an early to mid 20th century Dogon stool to which would have been carved for the Hogon of the village
A beautiful Dogon stool in the style of a Tellem headrest, superbly unique with the tiered platforms and the animal heads projecting from both sides. Wooden stools serve the Dogon people for everyday use, not so much nowadays for the traditional reasons as most of the Dogon people have converted to Islamic religion so tradition holds no value.
An unusual, beautiful and old Dogon stool of an abstract form and of a two tier design and decorated with a zigzag carving around the top and bottom surround and on the angled legs with a Dogon meaning of "flowing water", This early 20th Century Dogon stool has sustained cracks repairs and old insect invasion over the longevity of its life.
A beautiful later 20th Century Asante Kotoro Dwa stool. With Asante / Ashanti stools there are many variations and having many different meanings. This Kotoro Dwa "The Porcupine Stool", the porcupine is a symbol of the Asante nation: meaning if one is killed, there are hundreds following. It embodies the notion of readiness to defend one's nation.
A nicely styled Hehe stool from Tanzania. Although elegantly carved, these three legged stools are considered everyday objects and are also used for sitting whilst milking cows / goats.