Additional Information: A sublime head on the top of a cap with basket. The sculpture has a gorgeous dark patina. This is a shrine piece, known as a a-tshol from the Baga people of Guinea. The basket around tha base indicate the piece was also used as a headpiece and probably, was also danced as a mask.These are some of the most sacred and complex sculptures found among the Baga and served as shrines to protect the clan against negative forces. A -Tshol worked to heal as a curative agent, to disclose wrongdoers and fight sorcery and to determine appropriate retribution for unacceptable social behavior. Farmers would also approach the a-Tshol during planting season to assure a successful harvest.
The Baga are a small West African ethnic group living in a coastal area of swamps and inland waterways in Guinea bordering the Atlantic Ocean. The term Baga identifies not only a people or an area but also equally identifies shared cultural traditions and art forms with neighboring Nalu and Landuma and the dominant Susu people. Sculpture from the Baga people along the Atlantic seaboard has been known and documented for an extended period of time as early as the middle of the nineteenth century. Baga art traditions have developed over a long period of time and continue today despite religious conflicts with the numerous conversions to Islam and resulting pressures upon traditional figurative sculpture and in fact the ending of some sculptural traditions with a recent rebirth of these traditions of masks and figures.
Lamp, F. Art of the Baga. 1996.