Baule mask

Africa | Ivory Coast

Baule mask

Ivory Coast

Carved polychrome wood
Early 20th century
Height: 15 ¾ in. (40 cm)

Ex collection Emerson and Dina Woelffer, Los Angeles
Ex collection Philippe & Lucas Ratton, Paris

Exhibited and published:
The artist as collector, Newport Harbor Art Museum
Newport Beach, Byrnes, 1975, p. 50.

Baule Mask 40 cm ex coll Woelffer / Galerie Flak Price on request
On view at La Biennale
Grand Palais Ephémère, Paris
26 Nov. - 5 Dec. 2021

Among the Baule people of Cote d’Ivoire, this type of mask is usually the portrait of a well-known individual. Called Ndoma (meaning « double » in the Baule language), these highly refined masks were worn only on special occasions and for ceremonies, notably during the Mblo entertainment dances.
According to Susan Vogel in Baule, African Art, Western Eyes, 1997, these masks appeared rarely and briefly to preserve their beauty. They are known as alie kora, meaning « the meal is burning ». Indeed, when masked dancers appeared at the end of the day, women would run out to admire them, forgetting about the food they were cooking.
This mask calls to mind an ideal image « which follows the canons of human beauty among the Baule, both from an aesthetic and a moral point of view » (Baule: Visions of Africa Series, Boyer, 2008, p. 70).
It perfectly combines elegance and sophistication with an intense power of evocation.
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