Skip to main content

Ulimbi Bia

19th-20th century
Artist/maker unknown, Asante
This seat meant for royalty takes the form of a powerful leopard grasping between its teeth a smaller animal, most likely prey rather than offspring. The leopard's back supports a stool with a gently curving seat and vertical supports incised with geometric motifs. The artist has balanced the solid monumentality of the muscular, boldly spotted animal with the delicate detailing of the gold-painted stool. This object reflects a lively cultural exchange, for though its maker was from the Baule—Akan-speaking peoples living in Côte d’Ivoire—it replicates royal seats made by the Asante peoples of Ghana, which admiring neighbors had been imitating since the beginning of the twentieth century. In sociocultural terms, the combination of the royal stool of the Asante and the leopard, an animal associated with rulers throughout Africa, makes it the ultimate object of prestige, a symbol of leadership and power.

Object Details

We are always open to learning more about our collections and updating the website. Does this record contain inaccurate information or language that you feel we should improve or change? Contact us here.

Please note that this particular artwork might not be on view when you visit. Don’t worry—we have plenty of exhibitions for you to explore.