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Portrait Mask, Baule People, Côte d'Ivoire

Regular price $2,700.00

Baule People, Côte d'Ivoire: Portrait Mask (Mblo), finely carved and finished wood with a dark patina. The face features beautiful scarification marks between the brows, at the corners of the mouth and on the cheeks. At the hair line, delicate incisions delineate two rows of headbands, with the closely-spaced patterning extending up into the coiffure. Three stylized animal horns adorn the crown. The beard is rendered simply, in a similar style to the hair. At the back rim of the mask, incised holes for attachment of costume elements are worn smooth from use. Late 19th/ early 20th century.
The mask comes with a custom-made display stand.

The broad forehead and downcast eyes are classic features associated with intellect and respect in Baule aesthetics. The expression is one of intense introspection.

Such masks appeared as the final sequence of an operatic public entertainment known as Mblo. Mblo performances consist of a succession of dances that escalate in complexity and importance, culminating ultimately in tributes to the community's most distinguished member. Individuals honored in this way are depicted by a mask that is conceived of as their artistic double or namesake.

Dimensions: 15.5H x 8W x 5D; 22H on stand. (inches)

Provenance: From the private collection of a Massachusetts Gentleman.