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HOME : African & Tribal Art : African Stools : Yoruba Wooden Stool
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Yoruba Wooden Stool - PF.4632
Origin: Southwestern Nigeria
Circa: 19 th Century AD to 20 th Century AD
Dimensions: 13.5" (34.3cm) high x 10.75" (27.3cm) wide
Collection: African
Medium: Wood

Location: United States
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In much of African sculpture, there is a direct correlation between function and representation. Whatever is depicted by the sculptor, be it human, animal or abstract deity, becomes an essential part of the work of art; and both elements combine to transform ordinary matter into something extraordinary.

On this remarkable and powerful stool there are a series of separate, yet interrelated scenes. One figure with his hands raised carries an object that may be a weapon or perhaps a musical instrument. In the other hand he holds a Y- shaped article very much like a yoke or house post. To his right is a large bird, followed by a female figure. She is naked and lovingly carved in a semi-abstract fashion. Another male appears on her right, also with his hands raised. He holds what appears to be a shaft of wheat and a long cylindrical object that is joined to the head of a sheep. The last of the animals is a very sizable tortoise. Of the three figures only the woman has her hands by her sides. With her prominent breasts she is probably a fertility idol; while the men support the top of the stool, which may represent the sky. Within the circular scheme of this stool we see the basic elements of life - man, woman, animal, earth and sky, and the instruments which help make the land fertile. Using basic tools and a stump of wood, an artist has given us a simple and profound image of life; an image whose meaning goes to the very core of existence and extends far beyond boundaries. This refined, yet grand context explains why this stool was likely made for a king or chief.
- (PF.4632)


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