By Victoria Rovine
University of Florida (formerly University of Iowa)
The genius of African artists is evident in the skill with which they adapt foreign forms to local tastes. Among the most striking instances of such adaptations are the finely carved chairs of the Chokwe and related peoples of Democratic Republic of the Congo and Angola. When Portuguese explorers and traders traveled along the coast of central Africa during the 15th century, they brought with them many of the amenities of home, including furniture. Because Europeans were generally associated wealth power, their chairs were adapted by a variety of African kingdoms for use as thrones. The rungs and stretchers of this throne have been decorated with carved figures of spirits and kings.