Curator‘s Comments

The prestige stool with a kneeling, standing, or seated male figure supporting the seat of authority was one of the most important emblems of kingship and the privilege of chiefs. This type of prestige stool originated with the neighboring Luba peoples, but here the full and rounded forms of Luba figures are replaced by the more abstract, geometric designs of the Songye. The heavily lidded eyes, the bridge of the triangular nose, and the square chin jutting forward are all hallmarks of the Songye carving style. There are relatively few stools of this type, and their strong similarity to one another suggests that persons identified with a particular workshop carved them.

Prestige Stool

Unknown artist. African, Songye peoples, 20th century

Prestige Stool (male)., n.d.


Purchased, Smith College Museum of Art

ID Number: SC 1972:1-2