Nupe Stool

  • Tribe: Nupe
  • Origin: Nigeria
  • Approx Age: at least 90 years old as of 2017
  • Materials: Wood
  • Dimensions cm: Stands 36 x 40 (W)
  • Ref. Number: 1011

An outstanding Nupe Stool from Nigeria. Showing a beautifully carved seat of circular form with a geometric design which is typical of the Nupe stool. Being carved out of one piece of wood, the numerous legs that support the seat make it a wonderfully stable stool. This has sustained a break on one leg at some point in its life as it shows a repair, please see photos.

Provenance: This lovely tribal stool belonged to Constance Ethel Amos. Being born in Peckham, Middlesex in 1880. Constance was recorded on the 1911 census as a hospital sister in Peckham, aged 30. Red Cross records show that she worked for them from 1917 – 1919 aged 36. Dying on 14th October 1930 in Acton Isolation Hospital, Acton Middlesex. At some time in her life Constance spent a period of time in Nigeria and brought back various artefacts including the Nupe tribal stool. It is not know the exact dates of her travels or return from Nigeria but it was before 1930.

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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.

Related image
Nupe people showing glass beads


The Nupe are divided into different subgroups, including Batau, Kyedye, Eghagi, Ebe, and Benu, along with several others that speak related languages. Some Nupe have always lived outside the group’s boundaries, and other peoples have lived in Nupeland. Although the Nupe are scattered over several states in west-central and northern Nigeria, the majority resides in Niger State in Nigeria.  Nupe  people live in large villages or towns called ezi. Small settlements are called tunga or kangi, words that signify a “daughter-settlement” of a village or town. The local arrangement of Nupe settlements is consistent, with clusters of compounds consisting of a number of walled compounds, or “houses,” forming a ward, or efu. The wards are separated by stretches of open land and farms. The traditional house consists of a number of huts, mostly round, built of clay and thatched with grass and surrounded by a high mud wall. Most Nupe are farmers, and the staple crops are millet, guinea-corn, yams, rice, and groundnuts. Cassava, maize, and sweet potatoes (grown inland) are of secondary importance. The large proportion of seasonally flooded (fadama) land has allowed a greater emphasis on growing rice, sugarcane, and onions.

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Nupe Village


Every Nupe town or village has a market and regular market days. Markets are held either once a week or every five days to accommodate the needs of each area and the system of local transportation. Every kind of trade and craft is represented in the markets, including agricultural produce, foodstuffs, livestock, pots, and tools, along with products and services of tailors, leather workers, barbers, and butchers. The traditional industries, especially guild-organized crafts in which membership is largely hereditary, are done by men. These trades include blacksmithing, brass and silver smithing, glassmaking, weaving, beadwork, building, woodcarving, and carpentry. Nupe brasssmiths (tswata muku) are found mostly in Bida. The woodcarving tradition of the Nupe does not depend on the ceremonial or ritual use of artifacts but is almost entirely “art for art’s sake.”