BAULE Double Face Mask – Ivory Coast

BAULE Double Face Mask

Region: Ivory Coast

DIMENSIONS: H:11.45 x W:7.91 x L:4.034 in.
Late 19th Century


This is an important Baule double face mask, which means double power in the one who wears it, or dances it. Its highlight is its serenity and beauty, while representing age and wisdom. It is the power of twins sharing a common soul to see more clearly, with a more powerful ability to interpret the spirit world of the ancestors. Masks correspond to three types of dances: the gba gba, the bonu amuen, and the goli. They never represent the ancestors and are always worn by men. The gba gba is used at the funerals of women during the harvest season. It celebrates beauty and age, hence its refined features. The double mask represents the marriage of the sun and the moon or twins, whose birth is always a good sign. This mask has double the power, wisdom, and protection of ancestral experience to see beyond. The bonu amuen protects the village from external threats; it obliges the woman to a certain discipline; and it appears at the commemorations of death of notables. When they intervene in the life of the community, they take the shape of a wooden helmet that represents a buffalo or antelope and which is worn with a raffia costume and metal ankle bracelets; the muzzle has teeth which incarnate the fierce animal that is to defend the group. The very characteristic, round-shaped “lunar” goli is surmounted by two horns. It was borrowed from the Wan for a celebration adopted by the Baule after 1900. Celebrating peace and joy, they would sing, dance, and drink palm wine. In the procession, the goli preceded the four groups of dancers, representing young adolescents. The goli would be used on the occasion of the new harvest, the visit of dignitaries, or at the funerals of notables. Boxes for the mouse oracle (in which sticks are disturbed by a live mouse, to give the augury) are unique to the Baule, whose carvers also produce heddle pulleys, combs, hairpins, and gong mallets.

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