By Christopher D. Roy
University of Iowa
Africans have been quick to adopt European symbols of status, including the chairs early European explorers brought with them to the continent. The Chokwe, Lwena, and Lunda peoples made elaborate reproductions of Portuguese chairs to reflect the power of their own political leaders. The majority of these spectacular objects imitate the seventeenth-century Portuguese, straight-backed chairs introduced from the Atlantic coast. Only a few, including this example, imitate “folding-chairs” known as chitwamo cha kwasa. The two front legs and the crossbars of this throne are decorated with the protective ancestral figures including male/female couples, a turtle, and monkeys.