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Ulimbi Bia

20th century
Artist/maker unknown, Baule
This seat meant for royalty takes the form of a powerful leopard grasping between its teeth a smaller animal, most likely prey rather than offspring. The leopard's back supports a stool with a gently curving seat and vertical supports incised with geometric motifs. The artist has balanced the solid monumentality of the muscular, boldly spotted animal with the delicate detailing of the gold-painted stool. This object reflects a lively cultural exchange, for though its maker was from the Baule—Akan-speaking peoples living in Côte d’Ivoire—it replicates royal seats made by the Asante peoples of Ghana, which admiring neighbors had been imitating since the beginning of the twentieth century. In sociocultural terms, the combination of the royal stool of the Asante and the leopard, an animal associated with rulers throughout Africa, makes it the ultimate object of prestige, a symbol of leadership and power....

Object Details

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