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Baule Seated King on Animal Ivory Coast African Art 23 Inch

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Title Baule Seated King on Animal Ivory Coast African Art 23 Inch
Type of Object Figure, Carving,
Country of Origin Cote d'Ivoire
People Baule
Materials Wood, pigment
Approximate Age 20th century
Height (in) 23.5
Width (in) 7.5
Depth (in) 7
Dimensions Height: 23.5 Inches
Width: 7.5 Inches
Depth: 7 Inches
25 inches tall on stand; 6.5 x 9 inch base
Overall Condition fair to good
Damage/Repair some cavities, shallow cracks, dirt and stains

Additional Information: Baule figurative statuary is some of the best known and most collected. Finely carved male and female figures ranging is size from small to large are generally portrayed in a standing position of formal calmness with arms close to the body and hands resting on the abdomen. 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. The well-carved figures are burnished to a dark glossy patina from much handling.

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.

This particular piece may represent the spirit of ancestor. As for other figures in this category, the piece was kept in personal shrines where offerings were made to it. This shrine sculpture honors the ancestors. The same piece may also have served at the divination and kept in a shrine for Mbra and displayed during the trance or divination process to assist the priest.

Further 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

CT 8/17