Senufo Stool

  • Tribe: Senufo
  • Origin: Dicodougou, Ivory Coast
  • Approx Age: Mid 20th Century 60+ years old
  • Materials: Wood
  • Dimensions cm: 17
  • Ref. Number: 0952
£199.00

A beautiful, heavy and aged Senufo Stool found in Dicodougou. 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. The actual seat of this lovely stool shows a stunning crazed wood patina exposing the true nature and beauty of the wood, the last photo looks very bright almost as though it is white but is only light reflecting from the shiny patina. A truly endearing piece of Senufo art.

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The seat is the most important piece of furniture in Africa, usually taking the form of a stool or a chair. It serves as a social insignia because each person is entitled to a type of seat which corresponds to their social rank. It was said that a man was judged and respected according to the kind of stool he had. The stool is a strictly personal item and is said to be the seat of the owner’s soul. Stools can be bought by anyone, as long as the model is appropriate to the person’s social status. Most stools are carved out of a single piece of wood. You will also find many Senufo figures depicting a woman seated on a similar style of stool.

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The Senufo number 1,000,000 to 1,500,000 and live in Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Burkina Faso, and the extreme south of Mali. They live principally off the fruits of agriculture and occasionally hunting. Senufo agriculture is typical of the region, including millet, sorghum, maize, rice, and yams. They also grow bananas, manioc, and a host of other crops that have been borrowed from cultures throughout the world. Small farm animals such as sheep, goats, chickens, guinea fowl, and dogs are raised. Minimal amounts of hunting and fishing also contribute to the local economy. Labour is divided between farmers and skilled artisans, and while it was once thought that these segments of society did not intermarry, In addition to a belief in a creator deity, ancestors and nature spirits, a central concept in Senufo religion is a female ancestral spirit called “ancient mother” or “ancient woman,” the sacred guiding spirit of each poro society. All adult men belong to the poro society, which maintains the continuity of religious and historical traditions, especially through the cult of the ancestors. The poro is the pillar of communal life. Responsible for initiation and training of the young boys, it is aimed at shaping an accomplished, social man who is integrated to the collective; it aids his entry into public responsibilities. A woman’s association, the sandogo, in charge of divination, is responsible for contact with the bush spirit who might be bothered by the activities of the hunt, farming, or of artisans.

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The Senufo produce a rich variety of sculptures, mainly associated with the poro society. The sculptors and metalsmiths, endogenous groups responsible for making the cult objects live on their own in a separate part of the village. The attitude shown toward them by other Senufo is a mixture of fear and respect, owing to their privileged relationship with the natural forces that they are capable of channelling in a sculpture. During initiations, headpieces are worn that have a flat, vertical, round or rectangular board on top decorated with paint or pierced work. Many wood carvings of male figures depict these headpieces, sometimes on rhythm pounders used by young initiates, who beat the earth to call upon the ancestors to take part in the ceremony and purify the earth. The carvers also produce ritual female statues, including mother-and-child figures, as well as statuettes depicting bush spirits and supernatural beings and equestrian figures. Large statues representing hornbills (often seen also on masks) and used in the lo society as symbols of fertility are the standing birds called porpianong. Figures of the hornbill are used in initiation, and groups of birds on a pole are trophies for the best farmer. Figures of male and female twins and of horsemen are used in divination. These represent the spirit familiars enabling the divination process. The diviners themselves are women, forming the sandogo society. Shrine doors and drums are carved in relief, and small figures and ritual rings are cast in bronze.