Attye Standing Female with Barrel
Having an area about the size of Germany, Côte d'Ivoire is bordered on the south by the Atlantic Ocean, on the west by Liberia and Guinea, to the north by Mali and Burkina Faso, and on the east by Ghana. The Attye are one of the so-called Lagoon people of Cote d'Ivoire. This area is a mixed association of 12 different language groups. Little is known about their art. It is recorded that Christian religion had destroyed most of their sculpture in the nineteenth century. Arts from the Lagoon area are rare and difficult to attribute. They are all related but, if studied closely, one may find elements that facilitate identification. Attye style is recognized by the elaborate coiffure elegantly raised, muscular legs and arms and the elongation of their body, and elaborate keloid scarification. The female carvings have tiny protruding plugs, which can be twisted out. Patina varies from darker to lighter with traces of white pigment. The uses of the Attye figures are not clearly known. It seems like these figures had multi-purposes. Their role in the Poro and Lo society is unclear. For some sources Attye figures are most likely the representation of ancestors or the embodied spirit from the other world invoked for they help insure good health, fertility, prosperity, good crops, etc. It is also said that professional healers and diviners use these spirits to ask their assistance when performing their ritual. In the healing and divination process, the roles of these figures were to convey messages to the spirit world. During a consultation to a diviner, the spirit would come out to possess the diviner, causing a trance. The figures help elucidate the mystery and find the solution. Other sources indicate that these figures were occasionally given as prizes to outstanding dancers.