Genya people, Tshopo Province, Democratic Republic of Congo
19th to very early 20th Century
This is a very rare stool from the Genya (or Enya) people of the Stanley Falls region of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Genyas have a political sctructure based on secret initiation (like the Lengola and Metoko). This type of stool is provided in this context by mothers to their boys for their return from a long period of isolation. At the start of the reintegration, boys were required to sit on stools like this, silently. It was a way of marking their passage into adulthood [text adpated from Biebuyck (in "Sièges d'Afrique Noire du Musée Barbier-Mueller", 2003:214) and François Mottas comment under the Barbier-Mueller example AHDRC, 2021)
On the present stool, the seat if fully covered with brass tacks and the faceted foot is decorated with a frieze and alternating incisions. The stool shows extensive traces of use with a beautiful brown patina.
The piece has a great provenance too. It comes from Sandro Volta, a friend of Tristan Tzara (for whom he wrote the preface of the "Manifeste Dada" in 1918) Volta sold his fantastic collection in 1957 in Drouot but some pieces remained in the familly, such as this stool who comes from the estate of his son, Pablo Volta.
H: 17 cm (6 3/4 inches)
W: 24 cm (9 1/2 inches)
Price: 1500 Euros enquiry