Baule Elephant Mask Small

Baule Elephant Mask Small


This Baule mask comes from the Côte d'Ivoire in West Africa. The name Baule comes from the word baouli, which means “the child has died.” This refers to a legend that says that in the eighteenth century, Baule Queen Abla Poku sacrificed her son while leading her people across a river to the western shores of Africa. The Baule are now the largest ethnic group in the Côte d'Ivoire, and are credited with resisting French colonization longer than any other West African peoples, as well as maintaining their traditions and customs while exposed to European culture. 

The Baule are egalitarian and agriculturalists. They produce a number of crops, including maize, yams, coffee, cocoa, and kola nuts, and also procure fish and game. They are largely a matrilineal society, though paternity is recognized and is believed to pass down certain spiritual and personal qualities. They are spiritual people who hold their ancestors in high regard, but never depict them in masks. 

Baule masks are only worn by men, and are often used in dances or skits. They depict either humans or animals. This mask, with its curved trunk, twin tusks, and round ears represents an elephant. It would be used in ceremonies, dances, or skits. It exemplifies some of the main qualities used to distinguish Baule masks from other African masks: balanced proportions and clear lines.

13" x 5.5"