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Baule Portrait Mask - Ivory Coast

Within Baule culture, portrait masks are appreciated as the most refined and long-standing form of artistic expression. Characterised by a broad forehead and down-cast eyes (associated with intellect and respect), sacrificial scars around the eyes and mouth, representing the rite of passage into adulthood, and a deep 'mount'. The presence of a beard, shown here as a 'handle' on the chin, indicates an elder or one who deserves respect. These masks appear in the final sequence of a dance which escalates in complexity and importance, culminating in a tribute to the community's most distinguished member. Also used to make contact with Gu, the African God of blacksmiths, warriors and hunters.

Hand carved from a single piece of wood. Mounted on a hardwood base. Stand included. Signs of wear.

Latter half of the 20th c.

40 x 16 x 15 cms


Ethnographic - Baule Portrait Mask - Ivory Coast