Showing posts from February, 2010

African Stools

  T he most important piece of furniture in an African household is the seat, most often a stool or bench, as it is called in French:  le banc .    The  Duala  of the area now known as  Cameroon , for example, believed that the owner’s mystical strength lay in his seat; it was therefore dangerous for another person to sit on it. This person could be hit by lightning if he did not possess a similar mystical force. To sit on another person’s seat was to openly defy him, and nobody was surprised to find the transgressor dead the next day.   In  Ghana , an  Ashanti ’s seat would be tipped to one side when its owner was absent, to ensure it would not be used in his absence.   These backless seats were also used as thrones, albeit very ornately sculpted. A throne was not sufficient to make a king: the officials of the kingdom, who had assisted at the death and the burial of the previous king, were the only ones entitled to seat the new ruler on his throne, after a series of esoteri