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HOME : African & Tribal Art : Archive : African Art / Baule Wooden Ceremonial Spoon
African Art / Baule Wooden Ceremonial Spoon - PF.5948
Origin: The Ivory Coast
Circa: 20 th Century AD
Dimensions: 15" (38.1cm) high x 3" (7.6cm) wide
Collection: African
Medium: Wood

Location: United States
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Finely carved and highly polished spoons are used to serve rice during the annual harvest festival by the wives of the village officials. At this time, men of rank are expected to display munificence commensurate with their social and political position. These ladles had spiritual power for the women the way masks had power for the men. This spoon elegantly joins the scooping bowl with the image of a well- proportioned female's lower torso and legs carved into the handle. Traditionally along the western Guinea coast of Africa, ceremonial spoons were presented as a sort of trophy honoring a beautiful young woman and her contributions to village life. The beauty and status of this select female would thus be greatly enhanced by such a prestigious gift. The elegantly carved body that serves as the handle reflects the tremendous beauty of the honored woman. Incised geometric patterns along the thighs imitate decorative scarification that both identified a person’s rank in society and enhanced their sexual desirability. Overall this ceremonial spoon reveals the gift of African artists to transform the most mundane functional object into a work of tremendous beauty and marvelous wonder. - (PF.5948)


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