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Carved Ethiopian Wooden Chair

late 19th century

height: 59cm, width: 26cm, depth: 29.5cm



an old English collection since the early 1900s.

This small Ethiopian carved wooden chair has elegant proportions but its most significant quality is its patina – its lustrous, shimmering chocolate-like surface has a depth and glows with age and use. The depth and variety of the patina is nowhere clearer than on the reverse of the back, towards the top, where there is a lighter patch from where it has been handled to be picked up over the years.

It has been in the UK since the early twentieth century and most probably was already old when it came to the UK, so a nineteenth century dating is feasible.

The back is rounded as are the two front legs. The back legs are straight. The chair is carved with striations on the front legs and back, which is also carved with further geometric patterns. The seat is carved with a central diamond motif.

The chair is held together with several iron or steel nails, most of which appear to be contemporary with the piece. It is in very fine condition.


Bassani, E., et al, Sieges Africains, Reunion des Musees Nationaux, 1994.

Fabo Perczel, C., Ethiopia: Folk Art of a Hidden Empire, Mingei International Museum of World Folk Art, 1983.

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