Wed | Nov 22, 2017

Celebration of Jamaica's heritage

Published:Sunday | November 5, 2017 | 12:00 AM

Our journey to highlight the rich history of Jamaica through the artefacts continues. Today we look at the Asante Stool.

This stool was one of six hundred and fifty-nine African objects donated to the Institute of Jamaica by former Venezuelan Ambassador to Jamaica Otmaro Silva at the end of his tenure.

This stool originated from the Asante (Ashanti) people of Ghana. These stools indicate status, power, the succession of chiefs and kings, and functions as a symbolic 'seat' of lineage and is passed down through generations.

Asante (or Ashanti) stools are always carved from single blocks of wood and traditionally have crescent-shaped seats, flat bases, and complex support structures. Most of these stools have specific names and designated users. Asante stools are used, spiritual as well as practical purposes.

They were understood to be the seat of the owner's soul and when not in use, were leaned against a wall so that other souls passing by would not settle on them. The stool is said to be the embodiment of Ashanti ancestral leadership and authority. Wherever it is placed, or may be taken, the stool is given special treatment. In the Akan artistic tradition, support columns correspond also to well-known sayings or to specific persons.

The Asante Stool is currently on display in Ubuntu, the exhibition at the National Museum of Jamaica, located at #10 East Street Downtown Kingston.