Antique Bawule, Baule, Baoule Mask From Ivory Coast
Baule art is sophisticated and stylistically diverse. Non-inherited, the sculptor’s profession is the result of a personal choice. The Baule have types of sculpture that none of the other Akan peoples possess. Wooden sculptures and masks allow a closer contact with the supernatural world. Baule statues are usually standing on a base with legs slightly bent, with their hands resting on their abdomen in a gesture of peace, and their elongated necks supporting a face with typically raised scarification and bulging eyes. The coiffure is always very detailed and is usually divided into plaits. Baule figures answer to two types of devotion: one depicts the “spiritual” spouse who, in order to be appeased, requires the creation of a shrine in the personal hut of the individual. A man will own his spouse, the blolo bian, and a woman her spouse, the blolo bla. The Baule believe that before they were born into the world they existed in a spirit world, where each one had a mate. Sometimes that spirit mate becomes jealous of their earthly mate and causes marital discord. When this happens, a figure depicting the other world spouse is carved and placated with earthly signs of attention.