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Ivory Coast

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1. Baule figure, Cote d’Ivoire, wood, 9" (23 cm)
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1. Baule figure, Cote d’Ivoire, wood, 9" (23 cm)
  When covered with gold leaf, Baule figures of this form were called sika blawa, and were emblems of rank and prestige for Baule dignitaries. However this particular figure presents a problematic interpretation- having no trace of gold leaf, the question of its use remains open- was it carved and then sold to a European collector before being used? Was it carved and used for some other purpose, such as a spirit spouse, which would not have gold leaf applied to it? It is a question that cannot be answered. And yet this has little impact on the appreciation of the great beauty of this little statue, and the skill of the extraordinary master hand that carved her. It should be noted that total nudity is not acceptable in public among the Baule, and although the statues are carved as nudes, they would have been covered with a small loincloth over the genital area.

Collection of Charlie and Blanche Derby

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