Spencer Museum of Art The University of Kansas

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ngunja (carved chair)
  • unknown Chokwe maker
  • ngunja (carved chair), late 1800s–1908
  • Where object was made: Angola
  • wood, goat skin?, brass, carving
  • Object Height/Width/Depth: 63 x 35.5 x 42 cm
    Object Height/Width/Depth: 24 3/4 x 14 x 16 1/2 in
  • Gift of Claude D. Brown
  • Not on display
  • 2007.2542
Label Text

The four legged chair has a seat of stretched goat skin and a carved back embellished with brass tacks. Each chair rung is also carved, depicting a scene.

The back depicts the origin myth of the Chokwe. A woman, identified as Lweji, with legs spread wide and arms spread wide, is grabbing the men on either side of her by the throat. The men, with prominent penises, face the center woman, and each are grabbing a breast and shoulder. The vertical element of the chair back is covered with brass tacks, and there is a zigzag of brass tacks under the carved element.

The front chair rung depicts a sitting man with a beard holding a bowl who is facing a sitting man with a vertical element, possibly a lupembe (gong,) and a mallet.

The facing right chair rung depicts the same scene as that on the front, though the figure's hairstyles are different.

The facing left rung depicts three figures. One figure holds the center figure prone, his head under the first figure's left arm, and there is a third figure.

The back rung depicts a couple engaged in intercourse. There is a woman on either end of the couple. The woman by their heads is seated, holding the right wrist of the center man. The woman at the couple's feet is seated, with a basket on her head, and and her right hand to her mouth.