This mask was carved in the style of an mblo ndoma mask from the Baule people of Ivory Coast. The mask is pigmented in a reddish color and she has scarification around her mouth. The mask measures 20 inches tall, 26 inches including stand, and weighs 5.5 pounds. Some of the costume holes on the back of the mask have broken and there is some cracking, scuffing and wear and tear – please inspect photos.
Striking Baule Mblo Mask 26″ on Stand – Ivory Coast – African Art
1 in stock
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20" mask | 26" including stand
Some costume holes on back broken. Cracking and wear and tear.
About the Baule People
The Baule are originally part of a breakaway group of the Akan people from Ghana. In the 17th century, Queen Abla Pokou led a group on an exodus away from the main Ashanti Confederacy after a war broke out due to disagreements among the factions. Pokou realized that she and her followers may be in harms way, so she took her people and headed westward. Legend says the group came upon the Comoé River, with its dangerous waters and needed a way to safely cross. With the enemy gaining on them, Queen Pokou asked a diviner for advice. The diviner, after much thought, told her the gods required a sacrifice. Everyone began throwing their most prized possessions into the river; gold, ivory, cattle, everything they owned, hoping to appease the gods. The diviner shook his head and said that our sons are our most prized possessions. Pokou, knowing that her duty as queen was more important than that of a mother, decided then to sacrifice her only son, throwing him into the water and calling out “Ba ouli”, translated to “the child is dead”, giving them the name Baule. After the sacrifice was made, hippopotamuses came up from the river and formed a bridge allowing the queen and her people to cross.
The Baule settled in what is now known as Côte d’Ivoire or Ivory Coast. They began defeating current inhabitants of the area and quickly became the middle man post for North and South trading routes. Towns and villages sprouted up with each being independent from one another, making their own decisions with the primacy of a council of elders. Smaller communities were usually governed by a village-chief whereas large villages were ruled by a king or queen. Considered an egalitarian society, everyone is equal and has a say in the overall agenda of the people, including slaves...
Read more about the Baule here.
About the Mblo Ndoma Mask
The Mblo Ndoma Mask, also known as a portrait mask, is created to be a portrait of a real person, however, it may not look like the actual person since it is an idealized version. Only a person of high status and prestige would be honored with such a mask. The mask would be inducted by a group of individuals who admire the subject. They would then pay the sculptor to create it and parade the mask and honoree around the village. The majority of these masks will be depicted with arched eyebrows over a straight nose and oval face. Since these masks are made for a specific person, no two are alike.