Spencer Museum of Art The University of Kansas

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ngunja (carved chair)
  • unknown Chokwe maker
  • ngunja (carved chair), late 1800s–1914
  • Where object was made: Angola
  • wood, antelope hide, plant fiber, staining, carving
  • Object Height/Width/Depth: 114 x 43.5 x 49 cm
    Object Height/Width/Depth: 44 7/8 x 17 1/8 x 19 1/4 in
  • Gift of Claude D. Brown
  • Not on display
  • 2007.3160
Label Text

The large carved chair has a streched hide seat. The back of the chair is carved with a face in the top center, with a two-lobed headdress, identified as a chief's headdress. There are standing figures on either side, each wearing a cikunza mask. The panel on which these elements are carved has a basketweave pattern over the surface and a large square hole in the center. The back of the panel is decorated with a leaf-like design overall and a coiled snake at the center bottom. There are three turtles and three birds, placed at regular intervals. There is a rail under the panel, which is decorated with two human figures facing each other. They are seated, resting their elbows on their knees. The facing right figure has its left hand on its mouth and its right hand on its cheek. The facing left figure has both hands on its cheeks.

The front stretcher is decorated with six female figures, straddling the rail. The front figure rests its hands on its abdomen. The remaining figures rest their hands on the figure before. This is identified as the ciyanda dance.

There is a center stretcher, decorated wtih three human figures. The facing right figure faces the other two, who are each carrying a rifle over their right shoulders.

The back stretcher is decorated with two monkey-like animals with long tails, facing each other.

The facing left stretcher is decorated with six figures, possibly two males toward the rear and four females, each resting their hands on their abdomens. The females have an indication of breasts and labia. The males do not have an indication of genitalia. The pairs face each other. They each have a different hairstyle.

The facing right stretcher is decorated with four seated human figures, each holding a cube at their abdomens. Each has a different hairstyle.

The chair legs are carved to the shape of a standing figure with slightly bent knees and hands resting on its abdomen.
The front facing left figure is unadorned, but there is a prominent navel.
The back facing left figure has a disc-like hat. The abdomen is scarred with a diamond pattern.
The back facing right figure has as disc-like hat, though the body appears unadorned.
The front facing right figure wears a disc-like hat. She wears a flap on the top of her breasts and has scarring on her low abdomen.

The seat is light colored fur with large medium brown spots.