That exquisite hand-carved table you've been admiring in some of your favorite homes has a fascinating back-story. In reality, it isn't even a table; it's a handmade throne manufactured and designed specifically for royalty. The Bamileke stool is not only a work of art but also an important cultural artifact and historical touch point in the region.
Stools created by hand are one of the oldest and most well-known furniture arts on the African continent. There are hundreds of stools to select from, each depicting a unique cultural backdrop and significance. Each stool has a distinct back-story—and it's not only used as a perching place for stuff or people.
The Bamileke, like many other Cameroon Grassland peoples, employ a number of distinct art forms. These carved stools have long been used as ceremonial seating to demonstrate the status and authority of tribal leaders and rulers. Each stool is handmade from a single piece of teum wood and then stained. The owner's position is shown by the unique motif on each stool.
Leopards, spiders, lizards, buffalos, elephants, lions, and pythons are among the popular designs used on Bamileke stools. Human figures and heads and other more abstract patterns are also seen throughout Cameroon's history.
Each motif has a unique meaning attached to the animal's qualities exhibited in nature, which denotes the stool's owner. Cunning, swift, moving, and aggressively guarded are all characteristics of the leopard. It symbolizes perseverance and is therefore the most significant royal icon, frequently regarded as the king's alter ego. Wisdom is represented by the spider, which may be found on many types of stools.
The geometric crisscross design that is popular on many of the stools available today outside Cameroon is associated with the earth spider. The spider and cowrie shell motifs, which are considered acceptable for sale and frequently go to tourists or shops, are regarded as more typical than the leopard or other reserved symbols.
Because of this, they're acceptable as coffee tables, end tables, or even chairs. However, if you travel to Cameroon and see a stunningly beaded Bamileke stool with an abstract leopard image on it, do not put your coffee down—you won't want to sit on it.
Modern Bamileke side tables, on the other hand, may be utilized in a wide range of styles. They're excellent for adding to your seating arrangement and are frequently used as side tables. The wood may be naturally water resistant, allowing them to be utilized outside as well.
Whether you decide to include them in your home or not, it is critical to maintain them as works of art. While you may not need to keep them for any visiting aristocracy, you'll want on the off chance that anyone drops by.