Description
Highland crofters and shepherds were used to making and repairing their own tools and implements and often made their own chairs too following traditional patterns. This chair made by James Matheson, a boundary riding shepherd on the Shag Valley station, demonstrates this ability although the method of joining suggests the maker was more used to fences and gates than furniture construction. Although once apparently covered in pig skin, this chair has been re-covered in hessian stuffed with straw and was later given a brocade outer cover to soften its severe outline. The chair was considered important enough in the Matheson family for an ode to be written to it:

Framed of pig skin tough and lasting
fashioned by a pioneer
this old armchair has much to tell us
could we but its story hear

Matheson it was who made it
having slain a huge wild boar
with the aid of dogs and hatchet
in the sturdy days of yore

Gleaming knife and axe blade trusty
Steel tools for iron men
These alone were used to shape it
Sturdy stands it now and then

Armchair, cradle, courting restplace
battered yet still strong it stands
through three sturdy generations
monument to brain and hands

Of a stern old boundary rider
carving out his old arm chair
of the type who carved our nation
was the man whose work stands here
Maker
James Matheson
Production Date
1860s
Measurements
1110x560x710mm

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