- Museum number
Wooden carved standing male figure; representing spirit lover.
Height: 58 centimetres
Width: 12.20 centimetres
Depth: 14.50 centimetres
- Curator's comments
Description from William Fagg, ‘The Webster Plass collection of African Art, an illustrated catalogue’, British Museum 1953, cat.36.
Wooden standing Baule male figure, bearded and with high crested coiffure; on the cheeks, forehead, neck and body is typical Baule scarification in relief; the arms are carved in high relief with the hands flat on the abdomen. A seated female figure probably by the same hand is illustrated in Paul S Wingert, ‘The sculpture of negro Africa’, New York 1950, pl.XIX.
This carving of the Baule people of the Ivory Coast is of a type sometimes referred to as an 'ancestor figure'. In fact, it represents a male spirit lover, blolo bian who would be partnered by a female spirit lover, blolo bla. They are frustrated partners left behind in the world of the spirits when people are born into this world. Each man and woman is believed to have a spirit double or spouse that resides in the other world. If the spirit becomes angry, the human spouse commissions a carving to receive offerings. Cloths and jewellery are used to decorate the figure which is oiled regularly. The Baule believe that beauty helps promote fertility and avoid marital problems so the blolo bian has an elaborate hairstyle with intricate textured designs.
J. Perani and F.T. Smith, The visual arts of Africa: gen (Prentic Hall, New Jersey, 1998)
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
2015-2016 4 Dec-27 Mar, Korea, Seoul Arts Centre, Human Image
2021 - 2022 27 Apr – 16 Jan, Madrid, Caixa Forum, “Human Image”
2022 16 Feb – 29 May, Seville, Caixa Forum, “Human Image”
2022 28 Jun - 9 Oct, Zaragoza, Caixa Forum, “Human Image”
- Acquisition date
- Africa, Oceania and the Americas
- Registration number