Akan/Fante Stool, Ghana length 30in (76.2)
Lot 120Y
Akan/Fante Stool, Ghana length 30in (76.2cm)
US$ 18,000 - 22,000
€13,000 - 16,000
Auction Details
Akan/Fante Stool, Ghana length 30in (76.2) Akan/Fante Stool, Ghana length 30in (76.2)
Lot Details
Akan/Fante Stool, Ghana
Wood, bone inlay
length 30in (76.2cm)

Provenance:
English Private Collection
Private Collection, New York
Acquired from the above by the present owner

Exhibited:
Museum for African Art, New York. Reflections: African Art Is...", August 4 – December 12, 2005

This stool depicts a large feline tiger carved of hardwood. The compartment below the seat is lined with the scene of an industrial city, possibly Birmingham, England, which has historic trade links with Ghana. The Gold Coast and Birmingham have a long history through trade, most noteworthy in brass. In The Early History of Brass and the Brass Manufactures of Birmingham (Birmingham, 1866) W. C. Aiken notes that "a considerable quality of the brass wire made in Birmingham finds its way to the gold Coast, to old Calabar, in the form of what are called 'guinea rods', one hundred of which, each three feet in length, of Nos. 4 and 5 gauge in thickness, packed up in deal cases, and being at their destination, sold in exchange for palm oil, etc., are used as the 'circulating medium' by the natives, and at the death of the possessor are interred with the body. An influential Birmingham merchant states the orders from that country frequently amount to from five to twenty tons each. ..A smaller size of brass wire (a little thicker than ordinary pin wire) is converted by being wound round spits into spirals like an ordinary check bell spring, and is also exported to the locality named for purposes of ornament and personal decoration." (p. 95)

Although tigers are not native to the continent of Africa, there is a connection of the tiger to the Fante cultural group. The Twidan, a Fante clan, hold the tiger as their emblem or totem. John Mensah Sarbath, a lawyer, political leader and writer with a Fante ethnic background, acknowledged the connection between the tiger and the Twidan clan in the following quote from Fanti customary laws (1904). Citing the recorded statement of Mr. William de Graft who noted that the, "chiefs of several families (clans) are distinguished by certain significant emblems equivalent to the heraldic signs used in European countries. Mr. DeGraft himself is of the Twidan or 'tiger' family, and he distinctly recollects old Baffu, a chief of the same family at Anamaboe whose sign of office (his umbrella) was surmounted by a figure of the tiger. " (pp. 4-50) Fanti customary laws: A brief introduction to the principles of the native laws and customs of the Fanti and Akan districts of the gold Coast, with a report of some cases thereon decided in the Law Courts John Mensah Sarbath. (1904) (Reprints from the collection of the University of Toronto Libraries)

The connection of the tiger to the Twidan clan is supported by the oral history entitled, "The Twidan clan and the tiger", as told by clan member Nai Kojo Anim, Ghana, who explains why the Twidan have the tiger as their symbol. See the synopsis below. A live presentation, including an interview with the storyteller, Nai Kojo Anim:

"The clan chief was hunting when he met a little cub, they became good friends. Even when they were adults, that is why Tiger never attacked humans. One day the chief's wife hid under the bed, when the man and Tiger came home. She told the people in the village about his visit, and the people told her to warn them when the tiger visited again. The people began to worry about their lives and armed themselves for the next time the tiger came. After Tigers next visit, the chief found him dead in the forest. He lay down next to him and shot himself. That is why the Twidan clan uses the tiger as a symbol." (Web, 2013, www.anansimasters.net)
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Contacts
  1. Fredric Backlar
    Specialist - African, Oceanic and Pre-Columbian Art
    Bonhams
    Work
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    Los Angeles, 90046
    United States
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