Attye Figure Lagoon
The Attye masks and statues are indeed remarkable pieces of art from Côte d'Ivoire, showcasing a blend of Baule influence and unique characteristics. The Attye people are part of the Lagoon people of Côte d'Ivoire, residing in an area that encompasses 12 different language groups.
Unfortunately, not much is known about the art of the Attye and the Lagoon area due to the destructive impact of Christianity on their sculptures during the nineteenth century. However, some surviving pieces provide insights into their artistic style. Attye sculptures typically feature elegant standing or seated figures holding a barrel on their heads.
They are distinguished by their elaborate raised coiffure, muscular limbs, elongated bodies, and scarifications. The patina of these sculptures can vary from darker to lighter shades with traces of white pigment.
The exact purpose and significance of Attye figures are not entirely clear, as there is limited information available. However, it is believed that these figures served multiple functions within the community. Some sources suggest that they represented ancestors or embodied spirits from the other world, invoked to ensure good health, fertility, prosperity, and bountiful crops.
Professional healers and diviners would utilize these figures to seek assistance from the spirits during their rituals and consultations. The figures were believed to convey messages to the spirit world and aid in the healing and divination processes. In some cases, Attye figures were given as prizes to exceptional dancers.
While the scarcity of information about the Attye and their art poses challenges in attributing specific pieces, studying the various elements present in these sculptures can help in identifying their style and origin. The rarity of Attye art makes the surviving pieces all the more extraordinary and valuable in understanding the artistic traditions of the Lagoon people of Côte d'Ivoire.