StoolArtist(s)CameroonArtist NationalityCameroonianObject Creation Date20th centuryMedium & SupportwoodDimensions
11 in x 16 1/16 in x 12 1/8 in (27.94 cm x 40.8 cm x 30.8 cm)Credit LineGift of Dr. James and Vivian CurtisSubject 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.
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 TypestoolCollection AreaAfricanRights
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symbols of office or status