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HOME : Decorative Arts : African Masks : Baule Brass Mask
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Baule Brass Mask - PF.9910 (LSO)
Origin: Ivory Coast
Circa: 20 th Century AD

Collection: African Art
Medium: Brass

$1,200.00
Location: United States
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Description
This attractive brass mask was made by one of the tribes that make up the Akan polity, although many of its stylistic indicators point to an origin among the Baule group. It is a complex casting, with a broad, flat face, a sharp nose, high brows, slit eyes and a five-section coiffure crowned with a suspension loop. The face is adorned with keloid scarifications on the forehead, chin and cheeks. The lack of patination makes it unlikely to have a great age, but it is representative of a tradition of considerable note in Western Africa.

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.

Blolo bian (male) and Blolo bla (female) spirit spouses are perhaps the Baule’s greatest artistic and psycho-social achievement. These figures are otherworldly partners for young men and women, and are designed as perfect women/men who provide spiritual assistance to their earthly spouses. The Baule are also known for sculptures representing bush spirits (Asie usu) – mischievous and potentially malevolent inhabitants of the “bush”, or dark country beyond the boundary of the village – monkeys, and three types of masks that are used in the celebration of good harvests, mourning, and the visits of important dignitaries.

Items such as this were made for adornment and trade; it is an attractive piece of African art.

- (PF.9910 (LSO))

 

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