Spider and Ashanti Stools
Among the indigenous peoples of sub-Saharan Africa, seemingly ordinary objects are often imbued with special cultural significance.
The humble stool is no exception.
Cut from the trunk of coffee shade trees and felled at the request of farmers when they become overgrown, spider stools are hand-carved in Cameroon using centuries-old techniques. The making of this stool brings artisans and agriculture together in a natural symbiosis, benefitting both. The stool’s intricate, web-like pattern references the creation story of Cameroon’s Bamileke/Bamoun ethnic group, in which the female spider wove a web which caught creation and gave life to the world. The spider is an important symbol for the Bamileke. Because it burrows in the ground, it is perceived as a link between the living world and that of the afterlife. Spider stools were often utilized by nobility and those seeking audience in the royal court. As the Bamileke kingdom expanded over time, craftsmen made the stools more transportable so they could be carried from place to place. The resulting scale and openness of the design make spider stools a distinctive addition to any room.