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HOME : African & Tribal Art : Masterpieces of African Art : Bidyogo Wooden King's Throne
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Bidyogo Wooden King's Throne - PF.4922 (LSO)
Origin: Bissagos Archipelago, Guinea-Bissau
Circa: 19 th Century AD to 20 th Century AD
Dimensions: 26.5" (67.3cm) high x 19.5" (49.5cm) wide
Collection: African
Medium: Wood

Location: United States
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This unusual piece is a throne section, which has been attributed to the Bigjogo/Bidyogo group of the Bissagos Archipelago, Guinea Bissau. The body of the throne is anthropomorphic, featuring a pair of large human faces with arched brows, downcast eyes and highly exaggerated facial features. The faces could be argued to represent elderly males – a significant force in gerontocratic societies – based on their rather pouched cheeks and indented folds of skin; unusually, they have a central mark (perhaps a circular keloid scarification) in the centre of the forehead, between the eyebrows. The wood is dense- grained, the surface matt rather than highly polished, although it also displays extensive signs of use.

The Bidjogo are one of West Africa’s more notable groups in their seamless adaptation to a primarily marine environment. Their artworks reflect this, being based on prey fish (notably including rays and sawfish) and nautical themes. Figural pieces are uncommon, and elite objects such as this are even more so. Stools and thrones are the exclusive preserve of social elites in African society, the most dramatic and desirable examples being anthropomorphic or – as in the case of the Baga or Luba – caryatids.

This is the first such piece we have seen; it is a rare and remarkable survival.

- (PF.4922 (LSO))


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