Asante Elephant Stool
Approx Age: Mid – Later 20th Century
Dimensions cm: 42 (long) x 26 Wide)
Ref. Number: 0929
An Ashanti or Asante elephant stool of regal standing. The carved elephant that supports the seat is recognised as a symbolic animal suggesting whom every owns such a stool has both power and the authority to support the power. A stool of kings within the Asante tribe of Ghana. The elephant has a wonderful stylization to it and stands very proud, and although this stool doesn’t have a great amount of age to it and sadly hasn’t worn very well as a crack is present along one side of the elephant. The cracking is possibly due to the seat being balanced on rather than being sat on. Nevertheless this is a very endearing Asante stool.
This was most possibly carved to be sold or used to show off during the ceremony by carrying above the head in honour of the king…
The Asante also spelt Ashanti live in central Ghana in western Africa approximately 300km away from the coast. The Ashanti are a major ethnic group of the Akans in Ghana, a fairly new nation, barely more than 50 years old. Ghana, previously the Gold Coast, was a British colony until 1957. It is now politically separated into four main parts. Ashanti is in the center and Kumasi is the capital.
To the Ashanti, the family and the mother’s clan are most important. A child is said to inherit the father’s soul or spirit (ntoro) and from the mother a child receives flesh and blood (mogya). This relates them more closely to the mother’s clan. The Ashanti live in an extended family. The family lives in various homes or huts that are set up around a courtyard. The head of the household is usually the oldest brother that lives there. He is chosen by the elders. He is called either Father or Housefather and is obeyed by everyone.
Now as in the past, stoolsa have a special place. They are not just a pratical piece of furniture as they are regarded as having spiritual significance. The stool is understood to be the seat of the owners soul. When not being used it is placed at a slant against a wall so that none of the passing souls could settle on it. Indeed the Asante/Ashanti say that there are no secrets between a man and his stool. Each member of Asante society possesses a stool. Such stools would be carved out of a single piece of wood. If a king should die a natural death during his reign then one of his stools would be blackened and would, in future, be regarded as an ancestral seat. Sacrifices would then be made to it.
The elephant stool being regarded as the kings stool is due to the fact that the elephant indicated power and authority. In the past it was only the Asanthene that would be permitted to use the stool.
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