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Copyright
All Rights Reserved ()

Stool

Accession Number
1997/1.314

Title
Stool

Artist(s)
Cameroon

Artist Nationality
Cameroonian

Object Creation Date
20th century

Medium & Support
wood

Dimensions
11 in x 16 1/16 in x 12 1/8 in (27.94 cm x 40.8 cm x 30.8 cm)

Credit Line
Gift of Dr. James and Vivian Curtis

Subject matter
Throughout the Grassfields region of Cameroon, material culture acted as a signifier of a person’s place within the social hierarchy that many kingdoms in this area share. The king, in some kingdoms called the fon, had control over what motifs or symbols could be used on different objects by certain classes of people. A symbol of the fon’s power and authority, stools with royal icons were used exclusively by the fon. Some elite men could have stools with certain royal symbols, but only with permission from the fon. This stool could have belonged to a man of elite status, as important men often had carved wooden stools with human or animal figures. The figure in this object represents a spider, associated with the power of the fon and the process of divination. Also known as an earth-spider, because the spider lives underground, it is thought to be closer to ancestors and other spirits. As the fon is also close to the spirit world, the spider is a symbol of royal power and wisdom. Lizards are also a powerful symbol, associated with chiefs, twins, and ancestors.

References Cited:
Homberger, L. 2008. Cameroon: Art and Kings. Zürich: Museum Rietberg.
Northern, Tamara. 1984. The Art of Cameroon. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution.
Page, Donna. 2007. A Cameroon World: Art and Artifacts from the Caroline and Marshall Mount Collection. New York: QCC Art Gallery Press.
Pemberton, John III. 2008. African Beaded Art: Power and Adornment. Northampton, Mass.: Smith College Museum of Art.

Physical Description
A wooden stool with four posts supporting the seating platform. The posts are decorated with repeating motifs depicting spiders. 

Primary Object Classification
Furniture and Furniture Accessories

Primary Object Type
stool

Collection Area
African

Rights
If you are interested in using an image for a publication, please visit http://umma.umich.edu/request-image for more information and to fill out the online Image Rights and Reproductions Request Form. Keywords
power
prestige
royalty (nobility)
social status
symbols of office or status
wealth

& Author Notes

All Rights Reserved