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Fine Baoule Maternity Figure
P R O V E N A N C E: Old Private Collection, A. F., Bolie Surloi, France
Wood, High 37 cm.
Fine Baoule Maternity Figure, this finely carved stylized female figure has an exceptional and high abstract face with individualized facial features including a T-shaped straight nose, rectangular open mouth, and a square prognathous chin. Seated on a stool with the child against her abdomen, the left hand holding its legs and the right supporting its back, with crenellated legs, with elongated feet beneath elongated bent legs and columnar torso. Her finely carved, high vertical crest coiffure has different elements on each cylindrical neck which rests on squared shoulders. Her back is slightly swayed and a gently bulging stomach below pendulous breasts. This woman of importance is adorned with raised scarification’s on her cheeks, chin, neck, shoulders, back and stomach. Dark glossy patina.
* The Baoulé (or Baule) are an Akan people and one of the largest groups in the Ivory Coast. The Baoulé are farmers who live in the eastern side of Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast). The Baoule people are represented by religion, art, festivals, and equal society . There are more than sixty-five different Akan-speaking ethnic groups living in Cote d’Ivoire. They live essentially in the middle of the Cote d’Ivoire between the Comoé River and the Bandama River.
Legend goes that in the 17th century the Baoulé left present day Ghana and traveled west into present day Côte d’Ivoire under the lead of the Queen Pokou. According to oral tradition, the Baoulé were forced to leave Ghana when the Ashanti rose to power. While they were fleeing for their lives they came to the Komoe river which they were unable to cross. With their enemies chasing them they began to throw their most prized possessions into the river. It came to the Queen’s attention that their most valuable possession was her son. The Queen realized that she had to sacrifice her son to the river and threw him in. Upon doing so hippopotamuses rose from the river and allowed them to cross, saving their lives. After crossing, the Queen was so upset about losing her son that all she could say was “baouli,” meaning: the child is dead. From that point on they were known as the Baoulé
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