This page is a record of an exhibit that took place
in 2002-03. The individual links below will take you to
the CURRENT VERSION of the pages
that formed part of that exhibit.
Our winter exhibit, Baule Sculpture, from the Ivory Coast, presents the incongruity of incredibly beautiful and elegant work that was valued more for its spiritual presence than its workmanship and was usually kept secret and virtually unseen or viewed very rarely.
Baule masks range from the realistic and refined to the abstract and powerful. The best known are the quartet of masks worn during the Goli ritual of celebration and danced in sequence.
Kplekple masks, representing junior males, are simple, flat, round and horned.
Goli Glin masks, for senior males, are aggressively complex and very sculptural.
BAULE MASKS 1, (1-20) Kpan pre masks, for junior females, are graceful and horned, Kpan masks, for senior females, represent idealized women of beauty and wisdom. All were danced by men.
BAULE MASKS 2, (21-40) Kpan pre masks, for junior females, are graceful and horned, Kpan masks, for senior females, represent idealized women of beauty and wisdom. All were danced by men.
Bo nun amuin, the sacred and fearsome bushcow/antelope men's masks, kept in the bush and hidden from women and children, show the serious and powerful potential of Baule spirits.
Animal Masks, Animal masks, elegant, detailed and relatively realistic, are used in secular public dance performances.
Ram masks, elegant, detailed and relatively realistic, are used in secular public dance performances.
Mblo secular masks, portraits of particular individuals, were danced in a more public performance. We have double (twin) masks
Metalworks include figures, small masks, pendants and bracelet or anklet currrency.
Although Baule figures had a wide range of use, the actual function of the figures is not easy for outsiders to determine. All were thought to be inhabited by spirits and did not represent ancestors.
Small bo usu figures were roughly carved and helped with hunting.
The more refined blolo bla (spirit wife) and blolo bian (spirit husband) figures, that, if well taken care of, helped their human partners in all areas of life.
Asye usu figures were the abode of spirits associated with diviners. In ritual performances the spirit would come out to possess the diviner, causing a trance. The display of the figures would enhance and support the ensuing dance.
Figures carved by the Attie (southern neighbors of the Baule and like them, members of the Akan people) share the careful detailing and virtuosity typical of Baule carving but have more muscular limbs and small pegs imitating scarification patterns.