Spencer Museum of Art The University of Kansas

Welcome to the Spencer Collection

ngunja (carved chair)
  • unknown Chokwe maker
  • ngunja (carved chair), late 1800s–1908
  • Where object was made: Angola
  • wood, cow hide, brass, carving
  • Object Height/Width/Depth: 75 x 33 x 46.5 cm
    Object Height/Width/Depth: 29 1/2 x 13 x 18 1/4 in
  • Gift of Claude D. Brown
  • Not on display
  • 2007.2799
Label Text

The carved chair has a dark brown fur covered cowhide seat. The back of the chair has a human figure with a very large head with buns on either side of the head and a wide skirt-like garment. There is a vertical row of brass tacks down middle of the forehead. The panels of the chair back and the posts are decorated with regularly placed brass tacks.

The front two legs are decorated with human figures, hands resting on the low abdomen, though they have different hairstyles. The back chair legs are also decorated with human figures, on the back side. Each has the outer arm raised, and the inner arm resting on the abdomen.

The top back rail is decorated with three crouched figures. The front figure rests its arms on its breasts, the other two rest the hands on the shoulders of the figure before. The bottom back rail has one seated figure facing forward, arms on the belly. A seated figure to its right is placing both hands on the forward facing figure's right shoulder.

The facing right top rail is decorated with a standing figure facing a baby or child figure supine on the rail. A second adult figure is seated, facing the baby, with raised ridges along its arms, legs and head.

The facing right bottom rail is decorated with an adult figure embracing a child figure. They face a third seated figure, resting his hands on his own shoulders.

The facing left top rail is decorated with two seated figures facing each other, one with a gourd, the other with a cup.

The facing left bottom rail is decorated with two seated figures facing each other, one smoking a gourd pipe, the other holding his arms before him.

The front top rail is decorated with two figures, probably female, seated on the rail facing into the chair.

The front bottom rail is decorated with a seated figure holding a large box-like object. A second figure faces the first, straddling the rail, with arms held before him.