Artistry and aesthetic excellence may infuse even the most ordinary of objects. The Fowler collections include many objects intended for domestic or daily use—ranging from vessels to implements and furniture—which nonetheless reflect a masterful conjoining of form with function.
Even the humblest of objects may be embellished and enhanced in ways that elevate everyday work and imbue it with special significance and value. While many of these may appear to be purely utilitarian, they often served a symbolic purpose far beyond that revealed at first glance. For example, a chair may be used for sitting but may also serve as an emblem of authority. Similarly, a headrest may be used as a pillow, while at the same time facilitating communication with the ancestors through dreams. An object may fulfill several roles at once and have multiple layers of meaning and significance.
Many of the objects in this section are presented in groupings to show how much can be gained by looking at variations within a single genre. In addition to singular, one-of-a-kind works of art, the Fowler collections have many objects in multiples, allowing us to appreciate individual artists’ innovations on particular object types.
Object Name: Chair
Culture: Chokwe peoples
Place of Origin: Democratic Republic of the Congo
Date/Era: 19th century
Dimensions: H: 64.0 cm, W: 26.5 cm, D: 28.5 cm (H: 25.2 in, W: 10.4 in, D: 11.2 in)
Medium/Materials: Wood, leather, brass
Credit Line: Fowler Museum at UCLA. Gift of the Wellcome Trust.
Accession Number: X65.8514
L: 11.2 in, D: 11.7 in (L: 4.4 in, D: 4.6 in)
Gift of Barbara Rubin-Hudson. X83.797
Bamboo, plant fiber
W: 24.0 cm, H: 38.0 cm, D: 22.0 cm (W: 9.4 in, H: 14.9 in, D: 8.6 in)
Fowler Museum at UCLA. Gift of Nancy and Richard Bloch. X87.181
Object Name: Jar
Place of Origin: Peru
Date/Era: 600 – 900 C.E.
Dimensions: H: 21.4 cm, W: 16.6 cm, D: 11.2 cm (H: 8.4 in, W: 6.5 in, D: 4.4 in)
Credit Line: Fowler Museum at UCLA. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Herbert L. Lucas, Jr.
Accession Number: X90.488
Kenya or Uganda
Pokot, Turkana, or Karamajong peoples
Leather, beads, wood, string
19th-early 20th century
H: 20 cm, W: 11.6 cm, D: 5 cm (H: 7.8 in, W: 4.5 in, D: 1.9 in)
Fowler Museum at UCLA. The Jerome L. Joss Collection. X91.59
Object Name: Areca nut cutter (kacip) in the form of a mythical lion (singha)
Culture: Balinese peoples
Place of Origin: Bali, Indonesia
Date/Era: 19th century
Medium/Materials: Iron, gold, quartz
Dimensions: L: 21.2 cm, W: 9.6 cm, H: 3.0 cm (L: 8.3 in, W: 3.7 in, H: 1.1 in)
Credit Line: Fowler Museum at UCLA. Gift of Samuel Eilenberg.
Accession Number: X95.38.177