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Baule Brass Face Mask Surmounted by a Bird

SKU CK.0333
Circa 20th Century AD
Dimensions 11″ (27.9cm) high x 6.125″ (15.6cm) wide
Medium Brass
Origin Ivory Coast
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The Baule live across the Ivory Coast area, and have an economy based primarily on sedentary agriculturism. They have thus been able to build up a considerable political and economic stronghold, which has in turn given rise to a strong ritual and artistic heritage. Their own creation story relates to an ancient migration, in which the queen was forced to sacrifice her son in order to ford a mighty river. So upset was she that all she could say was “baouli” (“the child is dead”), thus giving rise to the tribe’s name.

The sculptures made by the Baule reflect their belief system, and is intimately linked with the duality of the sexes and the civilized/wild character of the village vs. the ‘bush’. Bush spirits and spirit spouses – otherworldly partners that appear in dreams, and who must be appeased – are notable artistic accomplishments of the Baule, in addition to naturalistic and deconstructed zoomorphic figures and masks, which relate to cultic activity and ceremonial celebration of fertility, agriculture and appeasement of ancestors or potentially harmful natural forces.


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