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Baule Mask Bronze Cote D'Ivoire African Art

Product #: 113523
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Title Baule Mask Bronze Cote D'Ivoire African Art
Country of Origin Cote d'Ivoire, Ghana
People Akan/Fante,  Probably Baule
Materials Bronze/Brass
Approximate Age unknown
Dimensions Height: 11.5 Inches
Width: 9 Inches
Overall Condition Good.   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 Some oxidation, casting flaws

Additional Information: There have been a number of metal mask-like sculptures from the Akan people of Cote d'Ivoire and Ghana. There is long tradition of figurative iron, bronze and brass casting in the Western Sudan reaching back to the period of the great Empire of Mali as early as the 12th century. The age of this interestingly cast iron mask is undetermined but it does reflect an earlier period of bronze or brass casting. The facial features on this mask are unusual and not founs on wood sculptures from the Akan people.  Usuallt metal masks are forged by blacksmiths working them into shapes that could be worn, simply carried, or kept in a ritual location. Indeed, this mask does indicate the skill of the blacksmith in forging a mask out of brass or bronze, a medium much more difficult to work than wood and in an abstract form not usually seen on the art of these people.

The mask has holes around the perimeter of the mask to indicate that it could have been worn as a face mask.  The patina in the back with traces of wear suggestes the mask was worn. But its small size makes it hard to believe that the offered mask was worn on the face. It is possible that the holes around the perimeter of this small mask were used to attach the maskto the hilt of a chief’s sword that would prominently display the head of a captured warrior or enemy chief when carried during ceremonies and parades. Among the Akan swords of different shapes and complexity serve ceremonial, ritual and political purposes and are prominently displayed at royal courts as regalia of the king reflecting the power and authority of the king.

Recommended Reading:
Cole, H.M. & Ross, D. “Arts of Ghana”. 1977.Mato, D. “Aspects; Akan Culture in Ghana”. 2002.