The West Region of Cameroon is home to the Bamileke, a grassfields people who speak one or several of the eleven languages native to this area. These unique “Spider Stools” are hand carved from a single, hardwood block (trunk) of the coffee shade tree local to this geography. The process of preserving the structure and finishes of such pieces requires a deep knowledge of craft as transmitted through centuries via oral tradition. These specific objects are built by the Bamoun, a Royal Family within Bamileke culture. The material for these Spider Stools is delivered to the Family at the request of local farmers, who donate the coffee shade trees when they become overgrown. By Bamileke tradition, the precise pattern of these Stools embody, iconically, the origins of life, whereby it was the female spider that wove the web, which in turn, “captured” creation. The spider is utilized both physically in design and metaphorically in spirit; while burrowing into the ground, the spider serves as the link between the living world and the afterlife. These Stools were employed by nobility and those seeking audience in royal circles. Due to the expansive Kingdom of the Bamileke, its craftsmen rendered these stools transportable so they could be hand carried from one village to another.
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