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Baule Portrait Mask Kpan or Mblo Cote d'Ivoire African Art

Regular Price: $195.00

Special Price: $89.00

Product #: 90849
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Title Baule Portrait Mask Kpan or Mblo Cote d'Ivoire African Art
Type of Object Mask
Country of Origin Cote d'Ivoire
People Baule
Materials Wood
Approximate Age Second half 20th century
Dimensions 18 inches H. x 6 inches W.
Overall Condition Poor. Most of our pieces have spent decades on at least two continents, and have been treasured by several owners.   Small splits, scrapes and cracks are a normal part of their patina attesting to their age and extensive use.  We examine each piece carefully when we receive it and report any damage we find in our listings.  Please look carefully at the pictures which may also reveal condition and damage.
Damage/Repair Large cracks in the back, chipped beard, wear in places


Additional Information: This is a classic example of a mask from the Baule people of the Ivory Coast. The face shows a serene expression. The elaborate hairstyle and the finial  beard denote that the mask represents a hansome mature man. The facial details are naturalistic and features almond shaped eyes slighthy open, a long and finial nose in the form of a T, a small protruding closed mouth, small ears, and scarifications on temples, cheeks. The arched coiffure is decorated with incised patterns and extended with three decorative appendices. This mask shows sign of use and some age.


This mask probably falls into a special grouping known as portrait masks. These masks are said to portray an honored person of the village or a personal ancestor who is celebrated during a ceremonial dance known as Mblo. It is an aesthetic performance in which this beautifully carved mask would be worn with a multicolored costume and danced in the most graceful manner by either the person it represents or a relative. The costume would have been attached to the broad collar of the mask by cords that were threaded through the holes at the back of the mask. The Mblo dance reflects human virtues including graceful movements and elegant dancing steps and celebrates personal beauty and refinement. Masks of this category are danced to entertain during days that the Baule do not work and they will also appear to honor important visitors to the village.They dance to honor the ancestor or the person represented by the mask. This well used, and classic mask recalls the artistry of the Baule artists of the past. The refined and well-carved face may be similar to the person for whom the mask was originally carved to represent. The hair is presented by finial incision patterns. The semi-closed eyes and pursed mouth indicate propriety and respect in keeping the eyes downcast and a sense of reserve that a mature person will cultivate. The reserved and enigmatic facial expression, the acute attention to detail and the high quality of carving all indicate that this is a classic example of Baule Art and a major addition to any collection whether specializing in the art of the Baule or a new collector simply taken by this finely carved mask.


I have examined this piece and agree with the description


Niangi Batulukisi, Ph.D.