Wooden stool 

We were unsure of the stools origin, but when I researched it I found it to be a stool from the A-kamba tribe from Kenya. A wooden stool embroidered with glass beads, twisted copper wire, depicting abstract figures and animals.

The making process would start by cutting down a tree, wood such as Kiwazi, using a small native axe called Ithoka. The trunk would then be cut into lengths and each piece is shaped with a knife. The 13 inch length stool legs are for women and mens stools are much smaller with curved legs. If a man unwittingly sits on the stool he has to pay a fine of one goat. The punishment is a purification of man, he becomes ceremonially unclean through sitting on a woman’s stool, the stools are believed to be an early tourist influence.

This stool in particular from the Ken Stradling Collection, that had been brought out of storage for the “Animals” exhibition being shown now, is made for women. The design on the surface is  fashioned entirely by eye, the coiled wires are deftly hammered into the wood of the stool by the butt end of an axe. The stool is then well rubbed with grease and acid juice from leaves for the desired result.



Williams Hobley, Charles. (1910). Ethnology of A-kamba and Other East African Tribes. Cambridge University Press. pp.34-38


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