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Baule Blolo Bian Sculpture of a Standing Man

SKU PF.5906
Circa 20 th Century AD
Dimensions 15.5″ (39.4cm) high x 3″ (7.6cm) wide
Medium Wood
Origin Central Ivory Coast


This sculpture probably represents a spouse from the spiritual world, called a Blolo Bian (Blolo Bla if feminine). Baule people believed that every person has such a spouse. It manifests itself through a series of dreams, usually sexual in nature, and is believed to be responsible for practical and spiritual problems that arise in the life of that individual. Once carved under the direction of a village diviner, the statue is kept in the person’s room and is offered food. Also possible, this statue might represent an Asie Usu figure. The Asie Usu spirits lived in the countryside. They are mischevious; but, if properly honored, will grant fruitful harvest and hunts. They sometimes express desire, through the village diviner, to be associated with a specific person. A statue is then sculpted and worshipped in the house of the designated individual, and it is often given a libation of chicken blood and egg, often giving it an encrusted patina. He rests both his hands on his belly next to his protruding navel. He stands with his legs spread apart and knees slightly bent. Raised decorative scarification is prevalent, especially along the front and back of his torso, on the sides of his neck, and on his temples and forehead. His facial features, including his arching brows that merge into a T-shaped nose and semi-circular eyes are also characteristic of the Baule style. The figure wears an elaborate coiffure that has been woven into a braided central crest that crowns his visage. This sculpture is a representation of the idealized form of Baule spiritual masculinity. The attention to details, most evident in the hair and raised scars, is masterful.


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