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HOME : African & Tribal Art : Baule Sculptures : Baule Ivory Sculpture of a Seated Chief
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Baule Ivory Sculpture of a Seated Chief - PF.4412
Origin: Central Ivory Coast
Circa: 20 th Century AD
Dimensions: 8" (20.3cm) high x 1.75" (4.4cm) wide
Collection: African
Medium: Ivory

Location: United States
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The Baule people have been characterized as possessing extreme individualism, great tolerance and a deep aversion toward rigid political structure. With such a free-spirited background it is no wonder Baule sculptors adopted their profession not through heredity, as is common in other tribes, but from personal choice or a desire manifested in a dream or trance. Contact with the spirit world was crucial, for it was often through a spirit an artist learned what specific details were required for a statue, such as hairdo, posture or scarification. It was believed wooden sculptures and masks had a closer contact with the supernatural world.

Baule statuary is distinguished by realistic details, and by certain canons of beauty; for instance, long hands, small buttocks and elaborate coiffures. These traits are evident in this beautiful sculpture, especially the hair, which is made of innumerable fine braids and intricately woven. This seated male may be 'spiritual' spouse, a figure created to offer appeasement and given its own shrine in a person's hut. Or, he may have been made to be carried by a wife to remind her of her husband in both his physical and spiritual aspects. With his eyes closed and relaxed posture, he exudes a sense of tranquility and harmony -lovely as the contours of his physique.
- (PF.4412)


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