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The throne, a decorative armchair (attribute of power and dignity) of ebony, consisting of 6 parts joined with pegs. The seat, backrest elements and footrest were made of cord woven from palm leaves. The decorations topping the backrest were made with the technique of inlaying with ivory. The outer edges of the backrest and footrest are decorated with wooden carvings in the form of spheres.

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The throne, a decorative armchair (attribute of power and dignity) of ebony, consisting of 6 parts joined with pegs. The seat, backrest elements and footrest were made of cord woven from palm leaves. The decorations topping the backrest were made with the technique of inlaying with ivory. The outer edges of the backrest and footrest are decorated with wooden carvings in the form of spheres.
The object was made before 1900 in Zanzibar or on the coast of what was then Tanganyika (now Tanzania) and commissioned by a rich merchant family from Zanzibar or a local Arab chief – a “sultan”. It is possible that this type of insignia was also used by the leaders of the Islamized African population of the island.
The throne was used during ceremonies (such as weddings, official visits) and was intended to emphasise the owner’s gentility, wealth and high social status. It is a unique object, rare in museum collections both in Africa (according to data provided in 1965 by the donor Stanisław Znatowicz, PhD only a few such thrones have survived in museum and private collections in Kenya and Tanzania at that time), as well as in Europe. With the disappearance of the power of Zanzibar, thrones of this type ceased to be made, and their place was taken over by more common carpentry products (such as chairs and stools).

Elaborated by the Seweryn Udziela Ethnographic Museum in Kraków, © all rights reserved

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Throne of Zanzibar

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