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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. Possibly it was used in a church or has religious associations.
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 has a rounded top. The seat has a circular well engraved with a Christian-like sun-burst motif and Ethiopian symbols, possibly letters. More letters are engraved to the front seat rail.
The feet on the front and back legs curve away from the chair, this being mirrored by protuberances that jut out from the legs (there are losses to one of these.)
The legs, rails and back are all further carved with striations and geometric patterns.
The chair is held together with several iron or steel nails, which appear to be contemporary with the piece.
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.