A chair fit for a Pharoah

At­ten­tion to de­tail shows artisans’ skills

Kapi-Mana News - - ARTS - By JIM CHIPP

When Jim How­ell walked into the mas­sive, dis­or­derly an­tiq­ui­ties hall at Cairo Mu­seum in 2003 he was im­me­di­ately taken by the throne of the an­cient boy pharoah Tu­tankhamen.

‘‘It just struck me, the aes­thetic of it – I just thought it was beau­ti­ful,’’ he said. ‘‘The first thing that came to my mind was ‘have a go at re­pro­duc­ing it’.’’

The chair is in the clas­sic style known as the Wind­sor de­sign, in which the back and legs are lodged into the seat, he said. The western Wind­sor chair was de­vel­oped in the mid­dle ages – from the fifth cen­tury un­til the 15th.

‘‘The Egyp­tians de­vel­oped this and it was lost from sight for 3000 years,’’ How­ell said.

Back in his Pa­pakowhai home he be­gan five years of work to de­ter­mine the throne’s ex­act di­men­sions and de­sign de­tails and then four more years of metic­u­lous work to build the replica.

How­ell’s throne will be dis­played at Pataka from July 4 till 21.

How­ell has also repli­cated fret­work that was miss­ing from the orig­i­nal and the ivory is mam­moth ivory rather than ele­phant, which now has le­gal pro­tec­tion.

The orig­i­nal was made of Le­banese cedar, which is also pro­tected, so How­ell has sub­sti­tuted wal­nut, which is a close match.

‘‘To me it looks very much like the orig­i­nal,’’ he said.

The chair con­tains 57 mor­tise-and-tenon joints, and the side rails ap­pear very slen­der.

‘‘Mak­ing this re­pro­duc­tion has given me a tremen­dous re­spect for the orig­i­nal artisans,’’ he said. An ac­com­pa­ny­ing foot­stool car­ries carved de­pic­tions of Nu­bians with their hands tied.

‘‘The sym­bol­ism is of them be­ing there un­der the Pharoah’s feet – sub­or­di­nated,’’ How­ell said.

How­ell will be at Pataka to talk about mak­ing the throne from 10am un­til 11.30am on Sun­day, July 7, as part of the Fes­ti­val of Wood Skills.

Rob­bie Gra­ham will talk about artis­tic wood-turn­ing and Al­lan Sanson will con­duct a hands- on scroll- saw­ing work­shop.

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