Tanzanian Throne Chair

  • Advertise with us
Project by Woodbridge posted 02-14-2012 10:59 PM 3445 views 2 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This is my interpretation of a Tanzanian Throne Chair.

It was built for a fund raising charity auction for the CPPS Precious Blood missionaries who do work in Tanzania building schools and water wells. Friends, who volunteer each year to help with the work in Tanzania, brought some small pieces of ebony back with them from their 2011 trip to Tanzania. I agreed to build a chair for the 2012 charity auction.

I wanted to build a chair that had some connection with Tanzania and when I Googled “Tanzania” and “chair” several images of Tanzanian Throne Chairs came up.

A Tanzanian throne chair is one of many styles of African thrones. The throne was an important piece of communal property taken out for important rituals and ceremonies. Thrones were used when a new chief was initiated, by the chief at important functions or when sitting in judgement.

The thrones, typically with three legs and a high back were carved from a single piece of wood. They were decorated with a carved male or female head on the top. Female thrones had a representation of breast on the throne back. The chairs were also adorned with various types carved geometric patterns carved on the backs, legs and the seat.
My chair is made from ash and ebony. When we installed the hardwood floor in our house several years ago we three boxes of the ash floor left over. Not enough to do another room with so it has been under our bed ever since. Some of it has finally been put to a good use. The flooring was resawed to remove the finish and planed about 5/8 inch. It was laminated together to make up the various parts of the chair.

This chair shares many of the elements of the Tanzanian throne chair. It has three legs and a rounded and carved seat. The legs are joined to the seat with a “Maloof style joint”. The curved shape of the legs is similar to many of the chairs I have seen. The chair has a high back, about 1 inch thick, the front is concave, and the back is angled at 3 degrees to make it more comfortable.. The back is attached to the seat with two dowels and to the back leg with a biscuit joint and glue.

The chair is decorated with ebony inlays and an ebony carving. Instead of carving the typical triangle and diamond shaped patterns into the chair, I used the ebony inlays to represent these shapes. Many people ignore the back side of the chair, but I like to include some decorative elements on the backside of the chair, albeit somewhat simpler.

The carved ebony head is nestled in an oval frame which is part of the chair back. This was my first attempt at carving a human head, and it was modelled after a Rastafarian mask carving (sans dreadlocks) that we brought back from a visit to Jamaica, while keeping the more “primitive” style typical of these types of throne chairs. This was a good thing since my carving skills are primitive at best. The head was very heavy so I sliced a thin piece off the back and hollowed it out. Rather than waste the ebony I used a plug cutting bit and cored out about eighteen ½ inch ebony plugs, which I can use for other projects. The piece sliced off the back was then glued on to cover up the hollowed out area. The carved head was sanded down to 600 grit. To hold the head in place, I cut a dado into the head and the back of the chair and glued on a ¾ inch stick into the dado.

The chair was sanded down to 22o grit and is finished with Miniwax cherry stain and several coats of satin finish wipe-on polyurethane.

-- Peter, Woodbridge, Ontario

4 comments so far

View StumpyNubs's profile


7681 posts in 3006 days

#1 posted 02-15-2012 12:08 AM

Wow, looks like you really worked hard on it! Thanks for posting!

-Jim; aka “Stumpy Nubs”

Blue Collar Woodworking? That's the best show since Hawaii 5-0! ” -The Podunk Journal

-- Subscribe to "Stumpy Nubs Woodworking Journal"- One of the crafts' most unique publications:

View a1Jim's profile


117342 posts in 3783 days

#2 posted 02-15-2012 12:50 AM

A one of a kind for sure.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

#3 posted 02-15-2012 10:07 AM

Very interesting design !!!


View Nicki's profile


5 posts in 2250 days

#4 posted 10-20-2012 03:47 PM

I love this chair

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics