Male Spirit Spouse Figure (Blolo Bian)

Male figured seated on high-backed stool with hands resting on abdomen; symmetrical scarification patterns on cheeks and temples, also down center of forehead and at base of the nose. Coiffure is high crested and segmented. Figure wears sandals and necklace or amulet around neck. Figure has sheen to patina, pigmented deep brown in contrast to stool. Figure has bore hole in back between buttocks.
Artist Unknown, African, Baule Peoples Côte D'Ivoire
1920-1960
Baule men and women have figures like this carved for their “other-world” or spirit spouses in order to please them and ensure they will bring health and good fortune. Above all, spirits require these figures to be beautiful. The spirit determines how he/she should look by revealing him/herself in a dream, either to his/her human spouse, a diviner, or the figure’s carver. This figure’s scarification patterns, placid countenance, coiffure, long neck and robust calves are features of ideal beauty in Baule eyes.
Museum Purchase assisted by the Friends of the Museum of Art
1971/2.32
Thursday, November 23, 2017