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HOME : African & Tribal Art : Baule Masks : Baule Copper Alloy Mask
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Baule Copper Alloy Mask - PF.6002
Origin: Ivory Coast
Circa: 20 th Century AD
Dimensions: 7.5" (19.1cm) high x 5.25" (13.3cm) wide
Collection: African
Medium: Copper Alloy

Location: United States
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The art of the Baule people is among the most popular styles of African art. In Africa, they are one of the few cultures that produced art for aesthetic appreciation, besides just ceremonial and ritual functions. Thus, as great appreciators of art and beauty, they developed a highly sophisticated style that modern collectors cherish. This gorgeous mask is a fabulous example of the richness of Baule art. The wide, narrow eye slits are echoed by the partially opened mouth. Decorative scarifications, considered both a sign of rank and marks of beauty, dot the forehead, brow, and cheek. Various loops along the top would have been used to secure this mask in place, either as a body ornament or a household decoration. Perhaps the most splendid feature of this mask is how the artist combined these loops on the sides to double as the ears. Facial hair has been gathered into multiple braids while three braids fall over the forehead, indicating an elaborately styled coiffure, again a sign of rank within the society. Two scenes of a bird attacking a coiled snake, which might relate to a tribal proverb, complete the mask. Overall, this mask is an essay on beauty written in the language of the Baule artistic style. - (PF.6002)


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