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stool / duho

  • Object type

  • Museum number


  • Description

    Register 1949:
    Wooden four-legged stool carved in anthropomorphic form and inlaid with gold; called duho.

  • Ethnic name

  • Date

    • 15thC (?)
  • Findspot

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Length: 44 centimetres
    • Height: 22 centimetres
    • Width: 14 centimetres
  • Curator's comments

    Register 1949:
    Oldman Collection.
    "Found in a cave in Santa Domingo" called Duho; Arawak craftsmanship, 15th century.
    See ETH DOC 1307.McEwan 2009
    One of the most triking Taino masterworks is this chief's stool sculpted from the dense tropical hardwood guayacan (Guaiacum officinale). It assumes the form of a powerful male figure with ear spools crouching on all fours with his head tilted up and mouth locked open in a tense grimace. The inscribed patterns just below the shoulders and on the backrest represent cotton armbands and a waistband. The Taino prized the hardness, durability and above all the blackness of the guayacan for their most precious religious objects. Black represented night and was also equated with the absence of colour in the invisible spirit realm. Hammered gold inlay was placed in the eyes to indicate the ability to "see" into this supernatural world. Gold was also applied to the joints - the points of articulation that maintain the component body parts as an integral whole. Chiefs and shamans used these "seats of power" to intercede with the ancestor spirits (cernis) and to help manage and control the invisible forces governing the natural world as well as the human affairs.


  • Bibliography

    • MacGregor 2010 65 bibliographic details
    • McEwan 2000 Fig. 10.8 bibliographic details
    • McEwan 2009 pp. 108-109 bibliographic details
  • Exhibition history


    2005-2007 1 Oct-7 Jan, London, Horniman Museum, Amazon to Caribbean: Early Peoples of the Rainforest
    2008, Apr-Sept, Barcelona, Museo Barbier-Mueller D'Art Precolombi, 'Caribbean Before Columbus'
    2008 Sept -2009 Jan, Santiago de Compostela, Fundacion Caixa Galiciade, 'Caribbean Before Columbus'
    2009, Jan-Apr, Madrid, Museo de America, 'Caribbean Before Columbus'
    2010-2011, London, BM/BBC, 'A History of the World in 100 Objects'
    2014 April-June, Abu Dhabi, Manarat Al Saadiyat, "History of the World" PROMISED

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date


  • Department

    Africa, Oceania & the Americas

  • Registration number


Stool (with anthropomorphic figure), duho made of wood, gold.

Stool (with anthropomorphic figure), duho made of wood, gold.

Image description



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Object reference number: ESA20923

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