Baule Belly Shield Cote d'Ivoire
Baule people believe that people are born into the world already married. This spirit spouse has great influence, for good and evil, over life on earth. After earthly marriage, one night of the week is kept for sleeping with the spirit spouse, and earthly spouses may not sleep together. The carvings are kept very private, and are rarely seen. Baule figurative statuary is some of the best known and most collected. Finely carved male and female figures ranging is size from small to big are generally portrayed in a standing position of formal calmness with arms close to the body and hands resting on the abdomen. Attention is focused upon the head with emphasis given to detailed face and neck scarification and elaborate coiffures. Figures are often enhanced through the addition of gold leaf or by jewelry. Baule figure sculptures fall into two categories, the first represents spirits of the wild (asie usu) that live in the bush beyond village boundaries and the second are male and female figures that represent spirit world spouses for their owners. Other world spouses , are kept in personal shrines where offerings are made to them and where they are close by their real world spouse.
Approximate Age: 20th Century
Made In: Côte d'Ivoire