Leather, cloth, beads, wicker, thread, nails
H: 96 cm, D: 54 cm, W: 69 cm (H: 37.7 in, D: 21.2 in, W: 27.1 in)
Fowler Museum at UCLA. Museum Purchase. X96.3.1
The color combinations, floral motifs, and style of this work indicates a bead artist from Efon-Alaye. The leathercovered chair is of European design, transformed into a Yoruba seat of power by the application of beads. The three faces on the back and others at the armrests and front panel recall the multiple faces of royal ancestors on beaded crowns. The leaves and flowers evoke the healing, the blessing presence of Osanyin, and title-taking cermonies. The words “king” and “oluwo” may have several referents. Osugbo/Ogboni society to balance the power and authority of the ruler or oba. The juxtaposition on either side of the chair’s back may be a visual rendering of this socio-political balance of powers. Alternatively, this may be the seat of an Osugbo oluwo (or Oliwo), the “leader” or “head-of-the-secret-pact,” the only elder permitted to sit elevated above the ground during meetins, his prerogative because he is likened to being the head or king in Osugbo. Note that the “N” has been reversed, suggesting the script is as much a design element as text.
Source: Drewal, H., Mason, J. (1998). “Beads, Body, and Soul – Art and Light in the Yoruba Universe”, Los Angeles: UCLA Fowler Museum of Cultural History. page 214