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HOME : African & Tribal Art : Masterpieces of African Art : Asante Wooden Stool Supported by a Crocodile
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Asante Wooden Stool Supported by a Crocodile - DAC.019 (LSO)
Origin: Ghana
Circa: 20th th Century AD
Dimensions: 12.05" (30.6cm) high x 29" (73.7cm) wide
Collection: African Art
Medium: Wood, Metal
Condition: Extra Fine

Location: United States
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This remarkable zoomorphic stool was made by the Asante, one of the numerous tribes that make up the Akan polity of Ghana. It is unusually ornate, with a pair of birds resting one on each side of the seat and looking down, where the base of the stool is configured in the likeness of a crocodile. The latter is exceptionally naturalistic, looking slightly upwards and with its tail curled around his legs. Surface detail is marked, with small lacunae indicating scales, a dark eye and exposed teeth. The birds are similarly ornate. Stools such as this were used to assert status in many African tribal groups; only elites, and especially chiefs, were allowed to use them. Very often they were not sat upon, but were just displayed as regalia. This explains the often spindly and somewhat insubstantial construction of earlier examples.

The Akan are a loose assemblage of tribes – including the Akuapem, the Akyem, the Ashanti, the Baoulé, the Anyi, the Brong, the Fante and the Nzema – that share general cultural trends while maintaining separate tribal identities. Their society is highly ritualised, with numerous gods under a main deity, Onyame. The society is ruled by Asantahenes, and a host of minor chiefs who claim royal status through their connection with the land and the founders of villages upon it. One factor that unites the Akan is the fact that they took a golden stool as their emblem and rose up against the European invaders in the 18th century. They have also staved off interest from Northern Islamic groups. The main reason for this imperial interest was the long history of gold mining and gold working in the area, which has been taking place for at least 600 years. As is apparent, they also manufactured regalia in other materials.

Old versions of these stools were treated with the same reverence that a throne might attract in western European groups; this comparatively late version is an attractive and usable piece of Africana. From an aesthetic point of view, it is a striking and attractive piece of secular art, and a worthy addition to any collection or sophisticated domestic setting.

- (DAC.019 (LSO))


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