A male Baule, Blolo Bian sculpture, Ivory Coast, Sakassou region, of a well known workshop, that Susan Vogel identifiued in 1994 as the “Nzipi workshop”the figure stands on a rounded base, the feet are large, the legs disproportionately small, a cantilevered torso is decorated with fine scarifications in front and behind, the hands rest below the pointed navel on the abdomen, a thick neck supports a teardrop-shaped head with a three-parted goatee, onebpart of the beard is fragmentary. The face with a lowered gaze radiates a calm turned inward, which is characteristic of this Sakassou workshop with its long tradition. Remarkable: in the mouth of the figure, remnants seem to have been left behind after a ritual “feeding” which also happens occasionally with Blolo figures.
The Baule believe that, in the otherworld called Blolo, all human beings were married before birth. These spirit spouses called blolo bian, meaning ‘spirit husband’, and blolo bla, meaning ‘spirit wife’, follow them into their human lives by way of human-figure sculptures called waka sran, or ‘person in wood’. Baule people carve these figures to represent their otherworld spouses and they believe that these spirits have influence over their human lives.
“To the Western eye, an essence of Baule style is a balanced asymmetry that enlivens while suggesting stability and calm. […] To an art historian, the most consistent feature of Baule art, and one expressed across the wide variety of Baule object types, is a kind of peaceful containment. Faces tend to have downcast eyes and figures often hold their arms against the body, so that Westerners might feel that the mood of much classical Baule art is introspective.” Susan Vogel.
This figure was collected in the Sakassou region, where Susan Vogel made fieldwork and identified the so called “Nzipi workshop” in 1994, and which was given later the name of “workshop of the Sakassou masters”.
In comparison from the same workshop the most famous Asie Usu figure, which, in contrast to the Blolo figures, often shows an intensive sacrifice and is much rarer, although stylistically indistinguishable. (Robert Rubin Collection of African Art).
Lit.:Baule. African Art, Western Eyes, Susan Vogel (1997: 26 and 28); Pierre Meauzé, L’art nègre: sculpture, Paris 1967, p. 64, no. 1; Margaret Trowell and Hans Nevermann, African and Oceanic Art, New York, 1968, p. 105 John McKesson, “La Collection de Robert Rubin”, Arts d’Afrique Noire, no. 71, Autumn 1989, p. 14.
5.000 – 7.000,- Euro
Height: 66 cm
Weight: 3,9 kg