By Victoria Rovine
University of Florida (formerly University of Iowa)

Democratic Republic of the CongoLuba peoples

Chief’s stool


H. 50.8 cm (20")

Seattle Art Museum, Gift of Katherine White and the Boeing Company, 81.17.876

Furniture often comes to represent the person who owned it, in some cases buried with its owner. The style and workmanship of furniture often reflects the owner’s identity, with more ornate and finely carved objects indicating high status. Some types of furniture are the prerogative of holders of particular titles, the object announcing and reinforcing its owner’s power. The objects presented here were all likely owned by people of high status for all are finely made and elegantly decorated. This caryatid stool from the Luba people belonged to a royal lineage and represents the ruler’s wife, the guardian of the secrets of royal power. The illustration shows a ruler seated on such a stool, with his wife at his feet. 

Luba peoples, Democratic Republic of the Congo, chief on throne. Engraving by V. I. Cameron.