X65.1617 Chief’s stool

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Chiefäs stool
Western Grassfields, Cameroon
Late 19th-early 20th century
Wood, plant fiber
X65.1617; Gift of the Wellcome Trust.


In the Cameroon Grassfields royal stools with carved human figures supporting the seats are distinct markers of authority and prestige. The most elaborate are those created for kings to use as thrones. Such a ”seat of power” was thought to contain the life force of the ruler, which precluded anyone else from using it. At a leader’s death, his throne was believed to die as well and was either buried with him or left to decay.

Gallery text, Intersections: World Arts, Local Lives, 2006