West African (Bamileke) Throne Chair

   West African Throne Chair
  West African throne chair, Bamileke people

Upon examining African furniture, it becomes apparent that tribal groups did not make armoires, desks, wardrobes, tables or dressers, no less modern, functional furniture like media centers. Instead, they made seats – lots of them – so many, in fact, an almost limitless repertoire can be found in this one single, relatively obscure category. It seems people in traditional African tribal groups like to sit, but not sit around having dinner at the table, signing important papers at their desk, putting on makeup, or watching TV, all activities which, generally speaking, require some other sort of furniture beside a seat.

West African Throne Chair with Elephant Motif
West African throne chair with elephant motif

Featured is a throne chair fit for a king. It comes from the Bamileke Kingdom in Cameroon, West Africa. The kingdom is composed of multiple chiefdoms, each with its own chief known as a fon. We can’t say for certain this throne belonged to a fon, but we can be sure it was created for a person of great status and authority. Look closely and you’ll see it is covered with elephants, the Bamileke symbol of force and power; and on the arms, spiders, the symbol of intelligence and the ancestors. You can read this throne. It says, whoever sits here is powerful, imbued with the wisdom of the ancestors.

In the Bamileke Kingdom, prestige objects such as this were created for people high up in the “royal” hierarchy. The seat itself was meant to illustrate power and lofty status, which raises the question - does power reside with the seat or the person sitting in it? We can’t answer the question here, but we can say – here, a world away, this throne illustrates that when beauty and meaning merge, the status of whoever sits in it will automatically be elevated.

View Product ››