“The Eastern coast of the Ivory Coast comprises an area of lagoons, where the population is divided into twelve different language groups. Before colonization, each village was autonomous and, when threatened, they united to form a ‘confederation’. Unusually, these people are not governed by chiefs, although a man’s social position is determined by his age.

The Anyi (also known as Anye or Agnis) people live to the north-east of this area and evolved an artistic tradition reflecting the influence of both the Lagoon and the Baule people.

Masks from the Lagoon area are extremely rare, but usually have a rough-looking appearance. Their function is unknown.

The Lagoon people produced a corpus of figures, varying from 25 to 70 cm in height, which were usually full-frontal, standing female figures with muscular legs and arms. Their faces have an incised mouth, a T-shaped nose, enlarged globular eyes, button-like scarifications and an elaborate coiffure divided into raised masses. They are characterized by a rich patina and are sometimes wearing miniature gold necklaces.

Anyi figures have rounded features and do not show the inset pegs typical of the Lagoon people.

Used by traditional healers, the role of these figures was to convey messages to spirits living in the other world. Occasionally, they were given as prizes to outstanding dancers.”



  1. Baquart, Jean-Baptiste. The Tribal Arts of Africa. New York: Thames and Hudson Inc. 1998. Print.

Art from this Tribe