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Gallery Ezakwantu

African Art  - Art Africain - Tribal Art -  菲洲艺术 - Afrikanische Kunst


Central and Southern African Tribal Art

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Chokwe Throne Struts

Chair Struts - Headboards - Angola




Chokwe and related peoples transformed functional objects into prestige court art commemorating the power and status of the chief. Chokwe thrones often included elaborate figurative scenes - symbolic microcosms of life - or depictions of ancestors and chiefs. The chairs are amongst the few African objects not carved from a single piece of wood, but instead assembled in parts we call struts. Owners of these status symbols were invariably chiefs. Our set of early collected carved struts includes a rare plaque or bed headboard.



Upper Chair Strut





The upper strut of the collection displays two Chihongo figures joining hands.  African wrought nails remain on either side of these highly stylized carvings.


Chihongo is a chiefly male spirit who appears at special royal events and ceremonies, such as initiations for the sons of chiefs, or the investiture of a new chief. He is friendly and displays vitality, power and wealth, aspects depicted by a disc styled beard and an elaborate crown.





Above left, chief Chauto as photographed in 1903 by Fonseca Cardoso. Above right, a Chihongo costume published in: Os Akixi (Mascarados) do Nordeste de Angola.



Second Portion - Plaque





The second plank from the top dates to 1910. It was made in Dondo Angola, where Portuguese 'Quirion da Fonseca' organized the 'Diamang' workshop at the museum. Elaborate carved plaques were decorated with ancestral representations and pokerwork 'scorched patterns', to use as headboards over small beds. Pokerwork may have been introduced to Angola by the Portuguese, as they observed the widespread technique in Portuguese South East Africa (Mozambique).



Center Double Faced Back Strut




The third double faced strut from the top includes portions of the original chair. It was made in Angola by Luchazi people, who migrated into Zambia from 1920.





The 'then' owner was attracted to Zambia (Northern Rhodesia), by a missionary hospital at Chavuma. The struts two stylized faces are ancestral representations, also found on Chokwe and related peoples combs, drums and thumb pianos.



Lower Strut





The lower chair strut includes three carved heads. It was sold at Sotheby's NY in the 1970's and remains with their tag dated to the period. The center head sports a stunning coiffure of 19th century origin and a horizontal figure 8 mouth. Matching tortoise representations are found on either side.





The struts great age is confirmed by carved facsimiles of Chihongo, framing either side of the central head.



The Collection



The assemblage is offered as a unit on a custom made stand. (above)




These rare struts depict a variety of Chokwe and related peoples coiffures. Artists detailed and thus recorded, old styles that celebrate the high fashion achieved at what became the highlight of Chokwe court art.










Galerie Ezakwantu

Southern African Tribal Art - African Art 


Central and Southern African Tribal Art


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