Prestige Chair

Prestige Chair


Wood and paint

Overall: 80.7 x 53.3 x 44.5 cm (31 3/4 x 21 x 17 1/2 in.)

Gift in memory of his parents, Wheeler B. and Dorothy Preston by Mary and John Preston 1983.33



The Babanki, one of the chiefdoms that comprise the Cameroon Grassfields, value elaborately carved chairs or thrones. They serve as memorials or visual records that have helped to mark kingships through the ages in the wider Cameroon Grassfields. As prestige objects and a high art form, thrones convey authority and royalty; a new king commissions a royal throne to commemorate his ascension. This example is considered by scholars as one of the finest in the United States. It is unusual because it features male and female figures mounted on stylized leopards, revered as the embodiment of stately power and sacredness. Other notable examples have only male equestrian figures. Five additional leopards frame the openwork back rest. The lower part of the throne is covered by three undulating rings bearing 24 heads
carved in the typical Babanki style.

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