|Title||Baule Heddle Pulley Ivory Coast African Art|
|Country of Origin||Cote d'Ivoire|
|Materials||Wood, thin rope.|
|Approximate Age||20th century|
|Dimensions||6.75 inches tall x 3.5 inches wide|
|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||worn patina with scrapes and scratches; see pictures for detail.|
Additional Information: Heddle pulleys are found in Sub-Saharan Africa as an accessory used in weaving cloth out of native grown cotton with small loom. They are used in strip-weaving to produce long, narrow strips of cloth that would be sewn together later to create a large textile. The weaver uses his feet alternately to operate the heddles which are always used in pair. Heddle pulleys have become real pieces of art which are found in museums and collections around the world for they are decorated with carved head, human forms (like this example) and animal forms. In most of the case these decorations recall masks and figures seen as spirits that are supposed to protect the weaver and help him produce good quality of textiles.
Baule art is dominated by elaborate figures carved to symbolize "spirit spouses" and masks. Many of their famous figures are stunningly beautiful, with mesmerizing facial expressions, detailed scarification and exaggerated coiffures, all carved in a precise and tight overall structure, with little excess. The Baule have also produced wild-looking and even menacing monkey statues, usually quite large, with bared teeth, and cups held in the front in a position of submission. Often, these so-called "mendicant monkey" are encrusted with the sacrificial blood of chickens or dogs. The exact purpose of these spectacular statues is unknown, but they are thought to be used in blacksmith cults. Baule statuary varies greatly in size and quality, and is still being produced today. The masking traditions of the Baule are also extensive. The decoration of utilitarian objects is also an important part of Baule expression, and there are many small masterpieces, particularly heddle pulleys, cast metal pendants and containers, similar to those of other Akan groups, and canes, tappers and wooden ointment boxes.
The Baule are members of the Akan peoples, who inhabit Ghana and Côte d'Ivoire. During the 18th century, the Baule people migrated westward from Ghana when the Asante rose to power. The Baule today are the most powerful group in Cote d'Ivoire, admired as highly skilled politicians, as well as talented artists, who have produced some of the most elegant objects known in West Africa.