Type 1A - The Folding Stool

From Wayne's Dusty Box of Words
1991-1786 BCE Acacia, leather seat. Metropolitan Museum of Art

Type 1A is a simple folding stool. Its structure is two X shaped frames that pivot on the crossover point and are connected by horizontal members. The seat is usually non-rigid and made of textiles or leather.

This form is first recorded in the Middle Kingdom of Egypt (2000-1500 BCE) both as art and extant examples from tomb finds. Based on what's known of early Egyptian culture, they got by with a very limited amount of furniture and were comfortable sitting on the ground in most cases. Therefore, having a seat of any type is a big deal and a clear status symbol even for something as simple as the one depicted to the right. It is only 14" high (modern chairs are 19").

Faltstuhl, 1200 CE Austria, MAK Museum

At the left, we have a carved and painted medieval example from the Salzburg, Austria area. Made of pearwood and leather, the seat is about 20” high (the height of modern chairs).

The reverse side of a Roman gold aureus, 28 BCE

Both across and along the X.

In ancient times, this form was sat across the X. I've seen conjectures that the reason for this was that the X was a symbol for divinity or power, but I have seen no credible evidence for that assertion.

That said, coins from the Roman Republic show X frame stools sat crosswise, though coins from the Empire, show chairs with a back sat in the expected fashion. Following the civil wars and the rise of the Empire, there was certainly no longer any pretense of divine descent by the Emperors so it's possible that theory has some merit.

In the Middle Ages and later, this form is sat along the X as we’ve come to expect.

Practical Matters:

I haven't personally made any stools of this form, only its more complex descendant (see below), but I would rate it "good" on the folding scale for convenient packing/transit since it would pivot until the tops touch. It is particularly suited to camping or field use where a full-size chair isn't necessary.

Common Terms: Fold stool, Faltstuhl (German), Sella Curulis (Latin), Faldistorium (Latin)

Gallery of Period Illustrations and Extant Examples

Gallery of Modern Reproductions

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