Baule statuettes

Monday 21 January 2008 by Florence , Brad

The Baule represent one of the most important tribes of Ivory Coast and have got a long artistic tradition. The Baule statuettes have principally two functions. The first group, named asie usu, represents natural spirits wandering in the jungle, described in turn as hideous and very beautiful. These spirits were supposed to have the power to possess human beings, to use them as mediums and to become embodied as statuettes intervening in divination seances. Such spirits must above all not be upset, but should be conciliated with an offer of a beautiful image in which to embody themselves.

The second group is composed of the “wedding couple from the other world”, named blolo bla or blolo bian. Every Baule, of either sex, is supposed to have had a spouse in the spirit world, whom he/she had left behind to join the world of the living, thus exposing him/herself to the spirit spouse’s anger. If the husband or wife from the other world tormented the living person with sickness or dreams, the latter, with a soothsayer’s advice, has a portrait carved and placed on an altar with offerings by way of appeasement. These statuettes have generally their hands on its belay and deeply sad faces which may express the reproaches of an abandoned spirit wife (see picture n° 1).


photo n° 1
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