The eastern coast of the Ivory Coast comprises an area of lagoons, where the population is divided into twelve different language groups. The cultural and stylistic unity of these people justifies grouping them together. Before colonization, each village was autonomous and, when threatened, they united to form a ‘confederation’. Usually, these people are not governed by chiefs, although a man’s social position is determined by his age.
The sculptural art of this area can be identified by common characteristics. Carvings feature an elaborate coiffure divided into raised masses and small button-like scarifications on the face, while the influence of their neighbors, the Akan to the east and the Baule to the north, is also apparent.
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.
The western Lagoon people carved figures in a slightly different style, with asymmetrical poses, flat breasts and a thin aquiline nose; while the statues made by the eastern Lagoon tribes have a central incised scarification on their body, reminiscent of their eastern neighbors, the Anyi. Anyi figures have rounded features and do not show the inset pegs typical of the Lagoon people.
Baquart, Jean-Baptiste. The Tribal Arts of Africa. New York: Thames and Hudson Inc. 1998. Print.