By Victoria Rovine
University of Florida (formerly University of Iowa)
The Lunda, who live in Angola and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, controlled a powerful empire in the late 18th and early 19th century. Lunda rulers, like rulers elsewhere, used art works to mark their status, including ornately decorated chairs and stools. Lunda artists often adapted forms from neighboring groups such as the Chokwe, well known for their rich carving and masking traditions. The Lunda commissioned chairs and other objects from Chokwe and Ovimbundu artists, making definitive separation of the arts of the Lunda from these neighboring groups a difficult and in some cases meaningless task (Bastin: 284). While it has much in common with Chokwe chairs, both in carving style and in its reference to European prototypes, the Lunda chairs folding joints make it an unusual and ingenious adaptation of a Western form.