Vintage Cameroon Wooden Stool
Certain carved wooden stools depicting animals and certain symbols are reserved for important people in Western Cameroon: the Fon (king), chiefs, Ma Fo (a powerful female), and certain nobles. While some stools are for everyday use, and others are used during the meetings of traditional societies.
Nobles do not sit on ordinary stools. When an appropriate stool is not available, they prefer to stand. For this reason, stools are often carried from place to place. Sometimes a stylized design and the poor condition of a stool may obscure its ownership and restrictions. In the past, if a wealthy person from a lower rank acquired an object that the nobility could only use, like a stool with a, then the person was asked to present a gift to the Fon (the king). After the presentation and an appropriate ceremony, the guilty party was then granted the necessary title to possess the object.
Stools are carved from one piece of wood. Plain stools are used by commoners and may be given away or sold, but stools that include certain symbols or royal animals cannot be disposed of so easily. The royal throne or stool, even when empty, still represents the Fon and is therefore regarded with deep respect. Tribal members of some social importance were allowed larger stools with geometric patterns or limited symbolism to indicate the owner's position in the social scale. The elephant, buffalo, leopard, lion, and python are royal symbols, usually reserved for the Fon or his immediate descendants. The earth spider, often depicted as a crisis cross pattern, is one of the most common motifs today, reserved for commoners and widely available as “tourist” stools.
The elephants on this stool couldn't be clearer in their meaning, symbolizing the political power of the kingdom and Fon because the elephant is seen as a royal animal. The elephant displays intelligence, prestige, strength, and, most important, community, showing the great leadership of the king.