Monday, June 30, 2008

Old African Mask: Baoule Tribe, Ivory Coast. Authentic.

Impressive old wooden mask from the Ivory Coast, Baoulé ethnic group.

Size: 13 x 8 x 3 inches, 883 gram.

Minor aging, a few stains from water drops, one or another minor scratch - but no faults at all. A hanger has been added at the back of the mask. (The image suggests that a small part is broken - right of the hanger - but telling from the wood it surely was carved like this.

The Baoulé are one of more than sixty-five different Akan-speaking ethnic groups living in Cote d'Ivoire. They live essentially in the middle of the Cote d'Ivoire between the Comoé River and the Bandama River. The number about 3,000,000 strong representing approximately 23% of the country's population.

In the 1600s the Baoulé left present day Ghana and traveled west into present day Côte d'Ivoire under the lead of the Queen Pokou. According to oral tradition, the Baoulé were forced to leave Ghana when the Ashanti rose to power. While they were fleeing for their lives they came to a large river that they were unable to cross. With their enemies chasing them they began to throw their most prized possessions into the river. It came to the Queen's attention that their most valuable possession was her son. The Queen realized that she had to sacrifice her son to the river and threw him in. Upon doing so hippopotamuses rose from the river and allowed them to cross, saving their lives. After crossing, the Queen was so upset about losing her son that all she could say was "baouli," meaning: the child is dead. From that point on they were known as the Baoulé.

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