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Baule Spirit Spouse Female Figure Blolo Bla

Baule Spirit Spouse Female Figure Blolo Bla

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Baule people, mid. or late 20th century, Côte d'Ivoire.

Beautiful and elegant wooden Baule female most likely represents a figure made for a spirit wife, blolo blaIt depicts a tall, youthful female with a long, well-defined neck, large head, elongated arms and shortened legs. The shape of the body are balanced and symmetrical. The knees are slightly flexed and the hands rest on the abdomen. Delicate facial features with finely arched brows, narrow nose, small mouth and almond-shaped eyes with downward gaze. Coiffure is high crested and segmented. Traditional scarifications on the lower back, forehead and on the both cheeks. The figure stands on a rounded base.

The Baule people (also Baoulé) are a Kwa people and one of the largest ethnicities in the region between the Comoe and Bandama rivers, Côte d'Ivoire. In traditional Baule religious belief, it is thought that each person has a "spirit spouse" from the spirit world (blolo), which they were married to before they were born into this world. The man has a spiritual wife (blolo bla) while the woman has a spiritual husband (blolo bian). People make offerings of food and money to their spirit spouse figures to keep them happy because they can influence their relationship with their earthly spouse or other earthly relationships and personal endeavors. However, if the spirit figures are not satisfied or not remembered, then they will become jealous. This jealousy can result in the casting of evil spells by the blolo bian or blolo bla. This could be the things like impotence in husband or sterility in the wife. That's why it's seen very important to the earth bond spouse to spend one day a week, usually fridays, eating alone in their room to have an intimate dinner and night with their spirit spouse. Spirit figures are intended to serve a single individual and have private shrines in the home dedicated to them.

Gorgeous Baule female figure are in good condition. Figure has sheen to patina, pigmented deep brown and later painted with black. Age-related wear and signs of handling. A minor crack runs on the base, otherwise intact. Size approx. 47,0cm x 9,4cm x 8,1cm.

Provenance: Ex-collection of Mr. Fofana Sankoung.

References and further reading:

Baule: African Art, Western Eyes, Susan Mullin Vogel, Publisher Yale University Press, 1997, pp. 260, 261, 262, 291.

Baule Statuary Art: Meaning and Modernization, P. L. Ravenhill, Institute for the Study of Human Issues, Working Paper 5, Philadelphia, 1980

Baule, 101 Last Tribes (

The Tribal Arts of Africa, Jean-Baptiste Bacquart, Publisher Thames & Hudson, 2002, p. 48, ill. 5

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