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Baule SpIrit Spouse Blolo Bla Cote d'Ivoire African Art

Product #: 75442
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Title Baule Figure Other World Mate Blolo Bla Cote d'Ivoire African
Type of Object Figure
Country of Origin Cote d'Ivoire
People Baule ?
Materials wood, encrustation, paint
Approximate Age second half 20th century
Dimensions 29 inches x 8.5 inches W.
Overall Condition Fair to good
Damage/Repair bad crack in one breast; shallow cracks, dents and chips in places, flaking patina


Additional Information:  Probably a  Baule  Figure carrying a flywhisk in each hand . The well carved figure has encrusted patina showing the figure has been painted several times.  She is carved with a necklace and   wears a blue short. She has toes' fingers embellished with pink nail polish, wich means she represents  a modern woman. 

Baule figures are beautifully carved with certain naturalism. Attention is focused upon the head with emphasis given to detailed face and neck scarification and elaborate coiffures. Figures are often enhanced through the addition of gold leaf or by jewelry. Baule figure sculptures fall into two categories, the first represents spirits of the wild (asie usu) that live in the bush beyond village boundaries and the second are male and female figures that represent ‘spirit world’ spouses for their owners. Our piece belongs to the second category.

Baule people believe that people are born into the world already married. This spirit spouse has great influence, for good and evil, over life on earth. After earthly mariage, one night of the week is kept for sleeping witht he spirit spouse, and earthly spouses may not sleep together.The carvings are kept very private, and are rarely seen. Baule figurative statuary is some of the best known and most collected. ‘Other world spouses’, are kept in personal shrines where offerings are made to them and where they are close by their real world spouse. The figures reflect Baule ideals of beauty and aesthetics as the female (blolo bla) and male (blolo bian) figures exhibit youthful, well formed bodies and with much attention to details of hair and scarification as well as being dressed in what is considered fashionable and in recent times in European style clothing.

Recommended Reading:
P. L. Ravenhill: Baule Statuary Art: Meaning and Modernization, Institute for the Study of Human Issues, Working Paper 5 (Philadelphia, 1980)S. M. Vogel: Beauty in the Eyes of the Baule: Aesthetics and Cultural Values, Institute for the Study of Human Issues, Working Paper 6 (Philadelphia,1980)S. M. Vogel, Baule, African Art, Western Eyes. 1997.

I have examined this piece and agree with the description.

Niangi Batulukisi, PhD