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Enquiry from Online Galleries regarding "West African Central Ivory Coast Baule/Yaure Face Mask ‘Mblo’"
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Look at what I found on the Online Galleries website!
Holes to sides used for attaching the dance costume. Old abrasion to the nose eyebrows and mouth, small section of zig-zag missing, a section missing to the reverse apparently gnawed by a rat
The reverse with an old paper label: ‘Ratton Paris’ and a white painted inventory No. 15
Old dry smooth silky patina
Early 20th Century
Size: 39cm high, 16cm wide, 11.5cm deep – 15¼ ins high, 6¼ ins wide, 4½ ins deep
Ex James Keggie
Ex William Ohly, Berkeley Galleries, Davies Street, London
Ex Private collection Ernest Ohly (in inventory)
Thence by Descent
cf: Smithsonian National Museum of African Art: 91-21-1 for a similar example
These sculptural masks have often been identified as Yaure, a less populous group who depending on their proximity to their neighbours either speak Baule or Mande. Both Yaure and Baule art, culture and masquerade performances are closely related. The Yaure masks have similar horn like projections carved with patterns and oval heart shaped faces. The scalloped hairline and elaborately carved patterns above it, representing the coiffure, are also typical of Yaure and Baule styles. The horns probably represent those of an antelope, an animal hunted by both the Baule and Yaure. The masks are emblems of spirit powers and their features are borrowed from the most physically attractive men and women who conform to the Baule/Yaure ideal of beauty, as physical beauty is culturally equated with moral rectitude.
Many of these masks were brought to Europe in the early 20th century where they were often bought and collected by artists upon whose work they had great influence. For example Amedeo Modigliani was directly influenced, and Pablo Picasso had a Baule/Yaure mask in his studio at Villa La Californie, now in the Musée Picasso in Paris.