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Object Name: Chair
Culture: Chokwe peoples
Place of Origin: Democratic Republic of the Congo
Date/Era: 19th century
Dimensions: H: 64.0 cm, W: 26.5 cm, D: 28.5 cm (H: 25.2 in, W: 10.4 in, D: 11.2 in)
Medium/Materials: Wood, leather, brass
Credit Line: Fowler Museum at UCLA. Gift of the Wellcome Trust.
Accession Number: X65.8514
African and European elements merge in this chair, which served as an emblem of prestige for a Chokwe chief. The Chokwe, who today live across three central African countries-Angola, Zambia, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo-expanded the territories of their kingdom in the mid-nineteenth century, gaining wealth and power. Chairs with leather seats and backrests used by Portuguese colonial officers in Angola were perceived as symbols of authority by many Chokwe, who adapted the form to their own purposes. The motifs carved on this chair include standing male figures and mask forms donning chiefly headdresses, characteristic of Chokwe royal iconography.
Source: Gallery text, Intersections: World Arts, Local Lives, 2006.
See also: Marla C. Berns, World Arts, Local Lives: The Collections of the Fowler Museum at UCLA. Fowler Museum, Los Angeles, 2014.