African art is functional, it serves a purpose. It's not dormant. It's not a means to collect the largest cheering section. It should be healing, a source a joy. Spreading positive vibrations. - Mos Def
The Senufo stool. The stool that floated down to earth from the heavens, as legend has it.
We have written about this thought provoking unique stool design and how the people in Alépé make it … but even more exciting in this day and age, is how these Senufo designs have become popular with decorators in the West for their elegance in structure and their beautiful elongated designs. Identified by the extraordinary skill used to carve it, with no breaks in form, this unique handcrafted piece is carved from a single block of wood with a crescent-shaped seat and flat base, creating a simple yet versatile design. The Senufo Stool is rooted not only in Ghana’s time-honored craft of woodcarving, but also in the rich cultural history and traditional designs of the Senufo tribes in Mali and Ivory Coast. Latter articles have seen us talk about the tight bonds of art and crafts that bound African people together, gave them an identity and uniquely identified them to their respected families, kins, regions, sectors and zones.
The Senufo stool is often used as an example of how African cultures have adapted to different environments and climates. The Senufo people are predominantly an agricultural people cultivating corn, millet, yams, and peanut. However, to be aware of the different gifts each member of a society has, is to acknowledge the cohesion that builds unity as a main trait of the African people. To each, his own craft. This has been seen in how there were musicians, artists, farmers, healers, etc in the African community structure.
Source : 101 last tribes
The Senufo people have specialized their art and handicraft work by subgroups, wherein the art is learnt within this group, passed from one generation to the next. For example, The Kulubele specialize as woodcarvers, the Fonombele specialize in blacksmith and basketry work, the Kpeembele specialize in brass casting, the Djelebele are renowned for leatherwork, the Tchedumbele are masters of gunsmith work, while Numu specialize in smithing and weaving.
The Stool That Floated From The Heavens
In Africa, the seat is the most important piece of furniture, usually taking the form of a stool or a chair. Did you know that tradition has it, that the Senufo Stool, or ‘Golden Stool’, floated out of the sky and landed on the lap of the first Ashanti king, Osei Tutu, who unified the Ghanaian people in the 17th Century? It was then declared that the soul of the nation resided in this stool. The soul of a people.
Source : African Plural Art
To date, it serves as an indicator of economic or social status, because each person is entitled to a type of seat which corresponds to their social rank. It was said that a man was judged and respected according to the kind of stool he had, as it was said to be the seat of the owner's soul. They could be for anyone, as long as the model was appropriate to the person's social status.
Senufo’s Top 4 Interior Tips
As the world keeps shifting to a natural living state, people are constantly realizing the importance of making ecofriendly, valuable, and re-useable choices when buying household items, décor and collectibles. Here are our top 4 tips when decorating with the Senufo stool.
1. Lounge Furniture
There is a way that statement pieces usually elude an interesting, attractive or relatively eye-catching demeanor in a room. The Senufo stool goes a long way in creating a lounge that offers a comfortable, quieter place to sit, either in your home, office, hotel or company. The low ride design creates a welcoming, soothing vibe of a seat closer to the ground; a natural point of energy and connection to the earth.
Image : Pinterest
Lounges are often filled with complimentary amenities such as foods and snacks, fast Wi-Fi and charging ports. They create a natural ‘set your soul free’ vibe that attracts the kind of look you were going for when designing a stress free space. Style it up with books, light pieces, animal carvings... anything to take the stress out and play some chess.
Image : Remodelista
The principle of wabisabi itself says to ‘find beauty and serenity in objects, landscapes, designs, etc., that are simple, imperfect, and impermanent. Perfectly imperfect in nature.
2. Room Centre Pieces
Centre pieces help set the theme of the room and bring extra decorations to the surrounding. A centre piece also refers to any central or important object in a collection of items. Adding the Senufo stools serves a decorative purpose, often not too large, to avoid difficulty with visibility around the room.
This décor style highlights the room, bringing emphasis on the stool that is displayed in a way that stands out. In a world that is riddled with high-stress levels, fast-paced living, unrealistic pursuits of perfection, and a damaging affliction with unnecessary buys, this elegant Senufo philosophy denotes a more connected way of living—a lifestyle, where we are deeply connected to nature, and thus, better connected to our truest inner-selves.
Image : Pinterest
And where else do we unwind than in our homes… create the space you want to imitate. The creation of beauty in humble simplicity that invites us to open our hearts and experience spiritual richness… through art, culture and history.
3. Bathroom Pieces
The most private of rooms…the bathroom. Here is where your soul, body and mind align for one task… cleansing. Plants and candles have been added to several ideas on bathroom décor over the years to bring about a sensual feel and calm, healing environment through choosing nature.
Image : Pinterest
Blending natural elements to give your bathroom space a unique and modern design brings up quite a host of natural materials you can use to give your bathroom the look you crave. The Senufo stool here, becomes your best friend. Layer towels, plants, toiletries; - whatever you want really, on this epic sculpture, to create a little piece of heaven. I can truthfully say that everything in nature is always changing, so nothing can ever be absolutely complete. A balanced yet unbalanced scene.
Image : Yourlocalproject
Your love for this piece however, will blur your understanding of what perfection really is, as it sits in front of your eyes, in your breathtaking shower room. Need an extra tip? Add stones! Stones, combined with woods, can create a charming look but don't overdo it. It's the little things that matter.
4. Bedroom Antiquities
Ah… the bedroom. Our safe haven. Spot the juju hat decor style at the headboard. Bedroom designs should therefore get the grip of one's real lifestyle and natural place in the world, as it is literally the room we stay the most... throughout the night, when the sun has kissed the earth goodnight and the moon has taken its rightful position as a night light through the drapes, shining in through our bedroom windows.
You see, rooms should not be put together for show but to nourish one's well-being. The Senufo stool in the bedroom setting is one of the most beautiful placements we have seen yet. It is the kind of art that with the passage of time, ages and decays, manifesting itself beautifully in objects. Remember, the sun is probably the most natural element you can use for free.
Image : Blueprintafrica
Use natural daylight to light up the whole environment. Open up your windows and draw back your curtains to allow natural daylight to come in. Place the stools in the path of light to form an abstract shadow, and enjoy the view! The Senufo way.