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1. Introduction

In many parts of West Africa, there is an old chieftaincy tradition. The Akan of Ghana have developed their own hierarchy which exists alongside the democratic structure of the country. The Akan word for the ruler is ‘nana’. In colonial times, Europeans translated it to ‘chief’, which is not an exact equivalent. Other sources speak of ‘kings’ or 'queens’, which is not entirely correct either. An Akan ruler’s appearance was thought to reflect the stability and well-being of his kingdom. An abundance of accoutrements indicates the wealth and power of his court. One of these accoutrements is a distinctive, five-legged stool the form of which symbolically evokes the organization of the kingdom. A central column which symbolizes the king, is surrounded by four legs representing his chiefs. Stools are in fact the equivalent of a throne in the Western world. We were told that the number of holes in the seat denotes the position of the owner among the Ghanaian chiefs but we have not been able to verify this. Our collection comprises a large number of these stools which were mostly acquired in Ghana in the 1990’s. Our apologies for some of the photos.
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West Africa-> (204)
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