Baule Mask

Archives | Ivory Coast

Baule Mask

Ivory Coast

“Daughter of the Goli” dance mask
Kpwan kple

Carved wood and pigments
Early 20th century
Height: 11 ¼ in. (28.5 cm)

Ex private collection, U.S.A.
Ex collection Olivier Castellano, Paris
Ex collection Adrian Schlag, Brussels
Ex private collection, France

Sold
As Alain-Michel Boyer notes in "Arts de la Côte d’Ivoire dans les collections Barbier-Mueller", 1993, p. 310-312), among the Baule people of Ivory Coast, masks are primarily intended to honor the amwin, formidable and invisible gods who regulate the daily lives of men.
Masked traditions play an essential role in homages paid to the amwin, which are described as especially receptive to music and masquerade. “The dance enables the masks to receive their influx and influence. It unleashes the force and lets it circulate. The performance in itself is considered an essential offering. If one does not dance, then the amwin is trapped. […] Naturally, the Baule only know the mask as it is when dramatized by the ritual, in a space where immobility meets movement and beauty balances fear in the living unity of a shared consciousness.”

This type of horned mask (known as kpwan kplé or “daughter of the Goli”) appeared during a ceremonial cycle called Goli. This day-long performance usually involved four pairs of masks which were considered to be a family. The masked dancers appeared in a precise order: the goli-glin (the father), the kpwan (the spouse), the kplekple (the son) and lastly the kpwan kplé (the daughter).
Daytime Goli performances were festive ceremonies, which could be seen by all. Goli masks could also be brought out at night for sacred rituals associated with the funerals of men. Such nocturnal performances were more secretive and could not be seen by children nor women.

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