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Batonga Stool
Zambezi Valley, Zimbabwe
19th century

height: 29cm, diameter: 25cm

This wooden stool is carved from a solid piece of wood. The seat is supported by two slightly curved shafts with pierced triangle or diamond motifs. The stool
has superb patina from many decades of use.

Stools in traditional African culture carry great significance. Elders, aristocrats and nobles typically sat on stools; lesser ranked individuals did not. This stool,
originating from the Batonga people, was for use by men only. Batonga women were forbidden from sitting on stools.

This example has a handle for greater portability. Typically, the stool owner would carry the stool with him from place to place (or his servants would.) The
stool would be carried to a chief’s court for example.

The Batonga (also called Tonga) are thought to have migrated from central Africa into the Zambezi valley region during the 12th century. Ethnically, they are
Bantu. Traditionally they farmed the land.

Today, the Tonga language is spoken by about 1.38 million people in Zambia and 137,000 in Zimbabwe. It is an important lingua franca in parts of those
countries and is spoken by members of other ethnic groups.

References: Bacquart, J. B., The Tribal Arts of Africa, Thames & Hudson, 1998.

Provenance: UK art market.

Inventory no.: 957

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